Authorities have released the identity of a Clairemont couple who died when their car plowed into a jackknifed big rig on Interstate 8 in Mission Valley and burst into flames.
The tractor-trailer veered out of control near Hotel Circle, struck a median wall and skidded to a halt across four of the five westbound freeway lanes about 1:40 a.m. Wednesday, according to the California Highway Patrol.
About a minute later, a 2004 Kia Amanti driven by a 64-year-old Frank Leon Bilyeu smashed into the stalled commercial vehicle at high speed and burst into flames, CHP public affairs Officer Brad Baehr said.
Bilyeu and his wife, 59-year-old Shirley Estelle Bilyeu, died at the scene, a coroner official said, adding that the two had to be identified through dental records.
The driver of the big rig, 38-year-old Abukar Suri Ali of Greensboro, N.C., and a 27-year-old San Diego man riding with him were uninjured.
The trucker told investigators he lost control of the semitrailer when he swerved to avoid an animal on the freeway, Baehr said.
The accident left several lanes of the interstate blocked for about three and a half hours.