Collision in Tahoe kills one, sends four to area hospitals
A traffic accident Thursday involving a 2001 Jeep Cherokee and a Heavenly Ski Resort bus left at least one person dead and four others injured.
The accident occurred at the intersection of Saddle Road and Wildwood Avenue near the Heavenly California base lodge at about 10 a.m.
Preliminary indications suggest the driver of the Cherokee, Raymann Kang, 54 of New South Wales, Australia, ran a stop sign at Wildwood Avenue while traveling east on Saddle Road. As the Cherokee crossed the intersection it was struck on the passenger side by the bus, which was traveling north on Wildwood.
“(The Cherokee) was hit broadside,” Munk said. “The damage is primarily on the passenger side. If you look at the car on the driver’s side there is very little damage, so I don’t think it rolled.”
The Cherokee came to rest about 30 feet off the pavement on the wooded northeast corner of the intersection.
The bus apparently left the road briefly after the impact, still traveling north. The bus driver, George Bergman, 58, was able to bring the Heavenly vehicle to stop on the road about 300 yards past the intersection.
“At the time of impact (Bergman) lost control and ended up off the road according to tire marks,” Munk said. “By the time he got back on the road there may have been equipment failure. By the time he gets things under control he is quite a ways down the road.”
Munk said that the speeds of the two vehicles have not yet been determined, but added South Tahoe Police and California Highway Patrol were still investigating to determine further details of the accident.
“CHP will try to determine approximate speed and things like that,” Munk said.
Three of the injured, Raymann and Diana Kang, both 54 of New South Wales, Australia, and Bergman, were transported to Barton Memorial Hospital. The fourth, Thart Lee, 54 of London, England, was transported by Care Flight from the scene of the accident to Washoe Medical Center. After initial medical assessments at Barton, Diana Kang was transported to Washoe due to the severity of her condition.
The deceased, whose identity is being withheld by the county coroner, is described as a 49-year-old female from London.
While Australian traffic laws require motorists to drive on the left side of the road, Munk said it appeared Raymann Kang was on the correct side of the road when the accident occurred.
“It does not appear that the driver of the (Cherokee) was on the wrong side of the road,” Munk said. “It just appears like he blew the stop sign.”
Munk said he is not sure if there will be any criminal charges filed against either driver, because the investigation is still in progress.
“We have a lot more investigation to go,” Munk said. “What if any charges will be filed, I don’t know. We will submit our findings to the district attorney’s office and they will make up their mind.”
Munk praised the Heavenly security for their aid in traffic control during the initial response of the police and rescuers.
“Heavenly Valley basically came to our rescue up there with traffic control,” Munk said. “They jumped right in and volunteered and basically saved our bacon with traffic control. It allowed us to have more officers working the collision scene.”
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