One killed in multi-car accident at Strawberry
March 12, 2006
A 34-year-old Bay Area woman in a sport utility vehicle was killed near Strawberry while passing westbound traffic.
The woman’s Toyota Highlander clipped a side mirror of a westbound car, rear-ended another car, then spun 180 degrees and was hit by an eastbound SUV.
“It impaled the rear of her vehicle and she was pronounced dead at the scene,” said officer Ron Baierlein of the California Highway Patrol office in Placerville.
Baierlein said he could not reveal the woman’s name until her family was located and notified. He said three paramedics who attempted to treat the woman found no evidence of alcohol.
“We don’t know what this gal’s frame of mind was,” he said.
There were four vehicles involved in the accident – three of which were from San Jose – with three people who were injured being taken and treated at three hospitals.
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Highway 50 was closed from 2 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., delaying several hundred motorists making the weekend exit from South Shore. Traffic west of the accident was backed up for four and one-half miles.
The accident occurred about one-half mile from Strawberry.
“According to witnesses, she started passing cars at about the (Strawberry) lodge,” Baierlein said. “People who saw her passing all the cars didn’t know what she was doing. It was like she was trying to get past all the westbound traffic which was clogged up, just like it always does on Sundays.”
Estimated by witnesses to be traveling 60-to-70 miles an hour in light snow, the Highlander clipped the driver’s-side mirror of an Acura. With approaching eastbound traffic likely in the lane, the driver of the Highlander attempted to turn into the westbound lane, but her SUV rear-ended a red Chevrolet Impala, knocking its driver unconscious. The wife of the driver in the Impala was uninjured, as were 1- and 4-year-old children in the car.
The Highlander spun out of control and collided with a Lincoln Navigator. A man driving the Navigator had a broken left leg and several broken ribs. The woman had broken ribs and a fractured sternum, the CHP reported. They were taken ambulance to a helicopter landing pad just west of Sly Park Road, where the man was picked up and flown to Sutter Roseville Hospital. The woman as driven to Marshall Hospital in Placerville.
Lake Valley Fire Department had 12 rescue workers on the scene. It took the driver, who regained consciousness but had neck and back injuries, and the passengers in the Impala to Barton Memorial Hospital in South Lake Tahoe, said Captain Andy Kaufer. The Lake Valley crew used the Jaws of Life to pull one of the victims out the Navigator.
Three CHP officers from the Meyers station worked the scene.
Strawberry Lodge co-owner, Robin Ghramm, said traffic came to a dead halt. She noticed some westbound vehicles had turned around to head back to Meyers before the thoroughfare was reopened at about 4:15 p.m.
– Susan Wood and Jeff Munson contributed to this report.