11-car crash near Bakersfield may have killed Paso Robles couple

Kern County officials are currently checking dental and DNA records to determine whether a couple that died Tuesday in a fiery crash on Interstate 5 near Bakersfield were from Paso Robles.

“We were contacted by a Paso Robles family who told us that their loved ones were en route to Los Angeles and gave us a description of their vehicle,” said Coroner John Van Rensselaer of the Kern County Sheriff’s Department. "We identified their vehicle but haven’t confirmed their identities yet.”

The victims’ names have not been released but they are described as a man and a woman in their mid- to late 20s, Van Rensselaer said.

The pickup truck they were riding in was involved in an 11-vehicle crash in the southbound lane of the interstate. Four big rigs and seven passenger vehicles collided at about 5:18 p.m. north of Highway 119, fire spokesman Sean Collins said. Six of the vehicles caught fire.

The pickup stopped behind one big-rig and was rear-ended by another, Van Rensselaer said, and then caught fire.

Crews used hydraulic rescue equipment to free a small child who was trapped in a car seat in another crushed vehicle. The child was taken to a hospital in stable condition.

Five other people also were taken to hospitals in stable condition.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, but Collins said weather may have been a factor. He said it was not raining, but strong winds had kicked up dust and reduced visibility around the time of the crash.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.