The man driving the camper checked his left, side-view mirror in an attempt to change lanes after noticing the stalled van, Simmons said, adding that both men were driving alone.
The camper hit the back of the van, sending both vehicles toward the Western Avenue onramp.
The van landed in the brushy embankment next to the curved onramp, while the camper landed on the onramp, its frame smashed and splintered.
“Because it’s an older vehicle made of wood, and it’s not made of steel, it shattered,” Simmons said.
Both men were taken to L.A. County-USC Medical Center with cuts and bruises, he said.
The two men, despite the severity of the crash, did not appear to be seriously injured.
“They were both complaining of pain and had cuts and bruises,” Simmons said.
The unidentified driver of the camper apparently lived in the vehicle, firefighters said. His possessions were all over the onramp, including a set of golf clubs, books, a banjo and a thin mattress.
Firefighters rummaged through the goods, placing them on the side of the road and in plastic containers.
“Because he lived in there, we’re going to try and pick up all the pieces and try and get everything of personal value back to him,” Glendale Firefighter Jim Cooper said.
Emergency crews arrived at the scene at 1:25 p.m., Cooper said.
At about 2:05 p.m., after rescuing the driver, crews discovered that the camper’s septic tank was leaking gas.
“We’ve got a foam supply line at the ready if anything should flare up,” Cooper said, adding that the books and brush added to the danger.
No fire erupted.
Traffic was backed up for miles on both sides of the freeway, as fire crews blocked one lane on the southbound side and northbound drivers slowed to catch a glimpse.