Getting across the Bay Bridge made it to nightmare status Thursday after a man claiming to have explosives, a gun and his teenage daughter in his vehicle stopped on the upper deck of the Bay Bridge.
CHP said the man, Craig Carlos-Valentino, who is in his 50s and from Antioch, was threatening to blow up the Bay Bridge. KCBS radio said a man claiming to be the person on the bridge called their traffic line and made the same claim. KCBS producer Ted Goldberg told Bay City News the man told them he was upset because his wife had been cheating on him and was going to leave him.
According to the CHP, at approximately 7:10 a.m. a "seemingly distraught" man pulled over on the Bay Bridge between Treasure Island and San Francisco. They determined him to be a threat, which caused them to stop all traffic on the upper deck for more than an hour at the height of the morning commute.
The man's 16-year-old daughter, who was initially a passenger in the SUV, escaped safely and was in police custody, according to the CHP.
After the man pulled over to the right hand lane and parked, police stopped all traffic behind him and that started a stand off. Hundreds of drivers were trapped behind the vehicle in question. Many of them got out of their vehicles to watch the drama unfold.
Police and a bomb squad responded. Many of them were holding rifles. Police said negotiators were able to talk the man into getting out of his SUV. He stood on the water side of the concrete barrier on the edge of the bridge for about 30 minutes before finally surrendering to arrest. The CHP said during that time he threw a gun into the bay. The Coast Guard also responded to the incident and closed the waterway under the bridge.
The upper deck was completely closed from just before 7 a.m. to just after 8 a.m., which backed up traffic to the toll plaza and beyond. Some commuters turned to BART and flooded its trains and parking lots, which were free because of the Veteran's Day holiday.
The man claimed to have bombs in his car, according to the CHP, so a bomb squad remained on the scene even after his arrest. Authorities quickly declared the scene safe enough to open the lanes and let the drivers who had been trapped on the upper deck for more than an hour get on their way to San Francisco. It took more than 30 minutes just to clear those vehicles off of the upper deck.
The toll plaza remained closed until about 9 a.m. with CHP officers forcing vehicles to turn around and go the other way. The SUV that started the standoff was driven off the bridge around 8:30, so it wasn't clear why the bridge remained closed (if the problem vehicle was removed.) CHP stopped traffic all the way back in Emeryville along I-80.
The toll plaza reopened just after 9 a.m., but by that time, the commute was completely wrecked.