Union City — An unknown person apparently stopped in the middle of traffic on Interstate 880 and dumped boxes containing hundreds of faces masks — prized supplies amid the COVID-19 pandemic — on the roadway Wednesday afternoon, the California Highway Patrol said.
Shortly before 1:40 p.m., CHP officers responded to reports of a “spill” from a pickup truck stopped in middle lanes of southbound I-880 just south of Whipple Road, and arrived to find several hundred masks spread across three left-hand lanes.
In a social-media post, the CHP’s Hayward bureau said a caller saw a “white truck with an unknown male adult stopping in the middle of lanes to dump boxes of medical masks,” after which “multiple individuals stopped and stepped out of their vehicles to pick up masks.”
CHP Officer Damian Cistaro described the masks as more of a visual hazard than a vehicle impediment, and expressed concern about reports of drivers’ behavior at the scene, given the presence of first responders.
“Motorists should not stop at this location,” Cistaro said. “There are people stopping and picking up face masks. They should not stop, but proceed through.”
The CHP Hayward post reminded drivers that it’s never safe to step out of a vehicle on an active freeway.
By 2:40 p.m., California Department of Transportation crews had arrived to clear the lanes and remove the masks. There were no reports of injuries from the scene.
An officer at the CHP Hayward office said investigators were working on a possible lead Thursday based on video from an area television station, and added that the male suspect could face charges of either littering or disposing of essential goods during a pandemic, depending on a district attorney’s discretion.
Anyone with information leading to the suspect should call the CHP at 510-489-1500.
Contact George Kelly at 408-859-5180.
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