Fact Check: Truck Driver NOT Found Dead With COVID-19 On California Highway With Load Of COVID-19 Contaminated Face Masks

Hoax Alert

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: Truck Driver NOT Found Dead With COVID-19 On California Highway With Load Of COVID-19 Contaminated Face Masks Old Photo

Was a truck driver found dead on Interstate 5 in California and positive for COVID-19 hauling a load of made-in-China masks contaminated with the novel coronavirus? No, that's not true. The California Highway Patrol said the photo included in a meme making that claim is from an old accident prior to 2020, and the driver died of a medical emergency, not COVID-19.

The claim originated as a post (archived here) where it was published by Facebook on June 26, 2020. It said:

TRUCK DRIVER FOUND DEAD IN CALIFORNIA. A California truck driver was found dead on the side of Interstate 5 in California. Driver tested positive for Corona virus 19. He was hauling 1 of 260 loads from Gavon Newsom's China mask deal that is distributed through out California that contains facial coverings, face masks and other covid 19 essentials. The drivers payload was inspected and is positively confirmed that the load is contaminated with Corona virus 19. So beware Californians and be sure to inspect your covid-19 Essentials good luck to all.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Jun 30 01:39:18 2020 UTC)

California Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Shawn Gordon from Yreka, California, told Lead Stories this is an old photograph and the person who died had a medical emergency.

"This photograph is of an accident that happened in our area. But it is old. It did not happen this year and the details in the post are not true," he said on June 30, 2020.

The photograph from the scene on Interstate 5 in Yreka shows a big rig truck on the side of the road with two highway patrol cars and an ambulance.

The post claimed "Driver tested positive for Corona virus 19," but Officer Gordon told Lead Stories that was also false.

"It is not true that the driver had COVID-19. There was a medical emergency."

The post claimed the contents of the truck were contaminated:

He was hauling 1 of 260 loads from Gavon Newsom's China mask deal that is distributed through out California that contains facial coverings, face masks and other covid 19 essentials. The drivers payload was inspected and is positively confirmed that the load is contaminated with Corona virus 19.

Officer Gordon told Lead Stories that was another false claim. "The truck did not contain PPE (personal protective equipment) and it was not infected with COVID-19."

In addition to misspelling the name of the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, the post cited no source for any of its claims.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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