According to a press release issued by the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office, a collision happened on Highway 101 near Benbow on Friday, 22nd of December. The driver who was driving the SUV that hit the semi-truck died due to injuries he sustained in that accident. He has been identified as 47-year-old Steven Ray Castillo.
The accident is still under investigation by the Redway office of the California Highway Patrol.
Prior to that press release, a press release issued by the California Highway Patrol showed that at approximately 1017 hours, a Mercury Mountaineer, which a 47 year old male was driving, was going south on US-101, north of Benbow on 22nd of December 2014. A Freightliner semi-truck which 49-year-old Cynthia Valencia was driving was going northbound on US-101 within the northbound number two lane. Due to unknown causes, the Mercury drifted into northbound lanes of US-101. The semi-truck driver took evasive action and merged into the #3 northbound lane in an attempt to avoid the accident. The Mercury continued to the east and hit the side of the semi-truck in the #3 northbound lane of US-101. Due to the crash, both the Mercury and the semi-truck caught fire.
Both the drivers were rushed to Jerold Phelps Community Hospital in Garberville. The driver of the Mercury died immediately due to severe injuries he sustained. The driver of the semi-truck suffered non-life threatening injuries in the accident.
The identity of the dead is currently being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
It is believed that the driver of the semi-truck was not driving while impaired.
California Highway Patrol, Humboldt County Sheriff, Cal-Fire, Garberville Volunteer Fire, City Ambulance of Eureka, and Cal-Trans personnel all approached the accident spot for assistance and investigation.
CHP is still investigating the reason of the accident.
Before the press release by CHP, California Highway Patrol Officer Jeremy Lozensky told that the driver of an SUV that collided with a big rig on U.S. Highway 101 near Benbow died of life-threatening injuries he sustained in the accident.
Lozensky also told that the identity of the man is not being released at this time. He was rushed to a hospital immediately after the accident where he died.
The driver of the semi-truck sustained non-life threatening injuries and was also rushed to the hospital after the accident.
Lozensky added that the accident happened when the SUV which was travelling southbound, entered the northbound lanes of U.S. 101 and hit the northbound semi. The driver of the semi has been identified as Cynthia Valencia of Sacramento.
According to him, both drivers were removed from the motor vehicles before they caught fire. “We are having a hard time identify the vehicles because they are all burned up”.
After the accident, U.S. Highway 101 that was closed completely was opened after almost 2 hours,told Caltrans Public Information Officer Eli Rohl.
News Source: Times-Standard