The scene was one of devastation.
One man was killed, the cab of his semi-truck reduced to a smoking, burned out hulk after the driver of a second semi slammed into the first on a dark, rural road a few miles east of Bakersfield on Friday evening.
The frantic calls started coming in at about 5:05 p.m., said California Highway Patrol Sgt. Basil Zuniga.
Collision. Wreckage. Fire.
Both trucks were traveling in the same direction, north, on South Edison Road when the driver in front slowed near Muller Road and likely began pulling a U-turn, or possibly a left turn, Zuniga said.
The second driver veered left -- but to no avail.
The two semi-tractors sustained heavy damage from the collision, but the one in front -- the driver had been pulling empty flat bed trailers -- was barely recognizable by the time Kern County firefighters doused the flames with thick, white fire-retardant foam.
"They advised one driver was still in his vehicle," Zuniga said of the calls for help. "He was deceased."
The second driver -- the identities of the two were not available at the scene -- was able to crawl out of his cab. Early reports suggested minor injuries for the second man, but later reports said he was taken to a local hospital, possibly suffering from burns on much of his body.
Zuniga implored all drivers to use extreme caution while driving the two-lane roads that crisscross the grape vineyards and citrus groves south of Highway 58.
"Beware of the cross-traffic at intersections," he said. "And slow down."