2 dead after head-on wreck on Highway 89

Stephen Wyer
Special to the Tribune

A Tuesday head-on vehicle collision on Highway 89 between Truckee and Lake Tahoe left two people dead, authorities say.

A 20-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman, both of whom were Berkeley residents, were pronounced dead at the scene of the wreck, which happened around 3:20 p.m. Tuesday near Cabin Creek Road, authorities said.

Neither person has been publicly identified by authorities, and officers have said that it could be a week or more before their names are released.

The deceased were in a 2014 Ford Fusion sedan driving northbound on Highway 89 when their vehicle veered across the double yellow line on the two-lane highway and struck a freightliner truck, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Jacob Williams.

Both people in the sedan are believed to have died instantaneously, Williams said, due to the violent impact of the crash. The sedan was barely recognizable due to the extensive damage sustained in the collision, he added.

The driver of the freightliner, a 45-year-old man from Fernley, Nevada, was treated for minor injuries. It was unclear if he was later hospitalized.

It is not known what caused the smaller vehicle to veer over the double yellow line. Authorities have determined that it is unlikely that the driver, the man, was under the influence of any substance at the time of the wreck, Williams said.

Williams noted that while no official cause of death has been determined, the level of impact involved in the collision between the vehicles rendered survival extraordinarily unlikely for the occupants of the sedan. Investigators don’t yet know whether either person was wearing a seat belt.

Williams said that the narrow, undivided, two-lane stretch of Highway 89 where the crash occurred is an especially dangerous area for vehicles, as the likelihood for head-on collisions is greater than normal.

“Our roads here are dangerous, especially at night it gets really dark and dangerous, and so you do often get those head-on collisions,” he said.

“With these roads, we do get some speed here, you have people coming and going to and from vacation destinations around Tahoe and they’re in a hurry.”

The speed limit in the area where the fatal crash occurred is 55 mph. Authorities have been unable to determine if either vehicle was speeding before the collision, and are still gathering evidence and questioning witnesses to the wreck, Williams said.

There were only a few cars in the vicinity of the wreck, none of which got caught up in its aftermath, he added.

Stephen Wyer is a staff writer with The Union, a sister publication of the Sun


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