2 U.S. Navy sailors among 3 motorcyclists killed in chain-reaction crash on 5 Freeway

The entrance to Marine Corps base Camp Pendleton is seen Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, in Oceanside, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
The crash happened near Camp Pendleton, pictured in 2015. (Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

Two of three motorcyclists killed in a fiery chain-reaction crash on Interstate 5 near Camp Pendleton on Thursday morning were active-duty sailors, the Navy confirmed Friday.

The pair were riding southbound on the 5 Freeway shortly after 3 a.m. when they and two other motorcyclists struck other vehicles that had crashed, the California Highway Patrol said.

For reasons still to be determined, the driver of a Jeep Wrangler lost control on the southbound side of the 5 Freeway, veered off the highway and hit a guardrail near Las Pulgas Road. The vehicle was then disabled on the side of the road, according to CHP Officer Jake Sanchez.

Shortly after, a driver in a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van crashed into the Jeep and overturned onto its side. That’s when the four motorcyclists following behind crashed into the van and Jeep. The ensuing crash set off a fire, according to authorities.

Three of the four motorcyclists were killed, the CHP said. Two were sailors based in Southern California, according to Navy Public Affairs Officer Brian O’Rourke.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation. The names of the victims have not yet been released by the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office.

Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.