Willits Resident Killed in Head-On Crash on Highway 20

Fatal Crash Near Lake Mendocino

On the afternoon of Monday, September 27, 2021, a two-vehicle head-on crash near the intersection of Highway 20 with Marina Drive in Mendocino County resulted in the death of one motorist – a Willits resident – and caused injuries to another, according to the Ukiah Area office of the California Highway Patrol (CHP). 

Details of the Deadly Incident

The crash occurred at around 4:11 p.m. and necessitated a “long-term” closure of Highway 20’s eastbound lane. Two vehicle occupants required medical attention, and an air ambulance responded. One person was initially reported to have major injuries, and the other had injuries described as mild to moderate. Vehicle extrication was required for at least one party. The person who was initially reported to have major injuries, a Willits man, was later declared dead. His identity has not yet been released.

Truck Crossed the Double Yellows

The Willits resident who lost his life in the crash had been driving a 2001 Dodge Ram pickup east on Highway 20. He was traveling at an unknown speed and had been towing another Dodge Ram truck on a flatbed trailer. 

For as-yet-undetermined reasons, the Willits man lost control of the pickup he was driving, and it crossed over the double yellow lines into the westbound lanes.  A 26-year-old man from Ukiah was driving a 2017 box truck in a westbound lane and was unable to avoid a head-on crash with the Dodge. The box truck driver suffered injuries that were described as minor. He was transported to Howard Memorial Hospital for evaluation and treatment. The driver of the Dodge truck had not been wearing his seatbelt, which may have contributed to his suffering fatal injuries. 

What Can Lead to the Loss of Vehicle Control?

There are a number of reasons a driver can lose control of their vehicle, some of which include:

  • Rainy weather can cause wet and slick roads.
  • Bad road surface conditions, such as gravel or potholes, can increase the risk of skidding.
  • Excessive speed makes a vehicle harder to control, especially around curves.
  • Mechanical problems such as brake failure or a tire blowout can cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle.

In the case of this Mendocino County incident that resulted in the death of a Willits resident, the reason that his truck crossed the double yellow lines is not clear. The fact that he was towing a flatbed trailer that was carrying a truck similar in size to the one he was driving may have contributed. Uneven or unbalanced loads can certainly lead to a loss of vehicle control.

Watch the YouTube video. The clip below shows how incorrect weight distribution on a trailer can be dangerous.

Willits Personal Injury Lawyer

Hello, and thank you for reading our report on this Mendocino County tragedy. My name is Ed Smith, and I am a Willits personal injury attorney. We are saddened, as always, to learn of another highway death. Injuries and fatalities are far too common on our Northern California roadways. If you or a member of your family has been hurt in an automobile accident that was caused by motorist negligence, please call our injury lawyers for compassionate, free, and friendly advice. Dial (707) 564-1900 locally, or if you are calling from another area code, we provide a toll-free line: (800) 404-5400.

For more than 38 years, my law firm has advocated for Willits residents in their personal injury and wrongful death claims. We provide a list of some of our settlements and verdicts on our website.

Another way to learn a bit more about our firm is to read client reviews. Many of our prior clients have taken time to write about our services on the following sites:

Photo: by Stefan Nyffenegger on Pixabay

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