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Wrong-Way Crash Near Corning Results in One Death

Deadly Wrong-Way Crash on Highway 99

In the early morning hours of Thursday, September 9, 2021, a wrong-way crash on Highway 99E claimed the life of a young SUV driver.

Details of the Tragic Incident

The deadly collision took place in the Vina region of Tehama County. A Dodge SUV was traveling north on Highway 99 when it drifted into the southbound lanes near South Avenue. It then crashed head-on into a tanker truck shortly before 12:30 a.m. The driver of the tanker truck had no time to avoid the collision. The impact was so violent the axle was knocked off the large tanker truck, and the SUV was rendered nearly unrecognizable. The driver of the SUV, a 28-year-old Red Bluff resident, was properly restrained by his seat belt but was nonetheless killed in the impact. His name has not yet been released, as his family has yet to be notified.

Tanker Truck Driver Suffered Injuries

The driver of the tanker truck, a 2016 Peterbilt, was a 60-year-old man from Chico, California. He sustained moderate injuries and was transported by helicopter to Enloe Medical Center. Thankfully, the tanker was empty. It was a gasoline hauler owned by the Chico-based company Williams Tank Lines that was between loads. 

Scene and Crash Investigation

Following the crash, both vehicles came to rest in the upright position, blocking the southbound lane of the highway. A detour was set up for scene investigation and clean-up, which resulted in the highway being closed for more than five hours. The road re-opened just before 6:00 a.m. on Thursday. 

According to the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the cause of the collision remains under investigation.

The Deadly Wrong-Way Crash

Whenever there is another deadly wrong-way crash, we look at ways in which they can be prevented. Every year in California, an average of 50 people are killed in wrong-way crashes. They have been noted to be on the increase in recent years. In more than half of those incidents, according to AAA, an alcohol-impaired driver was involved.

While in this Tehama County crash, it appears the driver of the SUV drifted into the opposite lane; sometimes people have actually entered the freeway in the wrong direction. To address that issue, Caltrans installed additional warning signs and lights throughout the state. They also equipped certain off-ramps with sensors that would alert the CHP if a vehicle entered the freeway traveling in the wrong direction.  Over the next couple of years, California drivers will notice more and more red warning reflector dots on roads in an effort to decrease these devastating wrong-way crashes. 

Wrong-Way Crash: Awareness

The vast majority of wrong-way crashes wherein drivers enter the highway in the wrong direction happen at night. Most occur in the left (fast) lane of the highway because impaired drivers, in an attempt to avoid being pulled over for speeding, mistakenly believe they are driving in the right, or slow, lane. If you must drive at night, it may be safest to travel in the middle lanes of the freeway, not only for the above reason but also because it allows you two directions in which you can move if you see a wrong-way driver approaching.

Watch the YouTube video. Below is a story from Inside Edition on wrong-way crashes.

Corning Personal Injury Lawyer

Hello, and thank you for reading our report on this tragic wrong-way crash in Tehama County. I’m Ed Smith, a Corning personal injury attorney. Terrible accidents happen on our Northern California roads and highways every day. If you or a loved one suffered injuries because of the negligent actions of another motorist, please call us for compassionate, free, and friendly legal advice at (800) 404-5400 or (530) 392-9400.

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