More than a month after Cody Edwards’ death in a solo vehicle accident on Highway 49 outside North San Juan, an investigation has not solved the mystery of the tragedy.
“That’s an open question we are unfortunately unable to answer,” said Officer Greg Tassone, with the California Highway Patrol’s Grass Valley office.
The CHP investigation determined that Edwards, 21, was not under the influence nor excessively speeding before he died Nov. 23, Tassone said.
Passing motorists found Edwards climbing up a hillside away from his heavily damaged 1990 Suzuki Swift, which had collided with at least two trees as it tumbled down an embankment shortly after 8:30 a.m., according to the CHP.
After driving at a undetermined rate of speed off the roadway south of North Heesche Ave., the Suzuki’s right front end collided with a large pine tree, spun clockwise and rolled onto its left side until its roof impacted another large tree, stopping its descent, according to the CHP’s incident report.
Suffering from severe head trauma from not wearing a seat belt, Edwards succumbed to his injuries before reaching a medical facility, Tassone said.
“There were some problems with a tread on one of the tires,” Tassone said. “We don’t know what effect that may have had, if it distracted him, but it did not cause a loss of control.”
Edwards, who moved to North San Juan over the summer, was reportedly running an errand when he crashed. Tassone said that because the tire-tread issue occurred a few hundred yards from where Edwards went off the road, it is possible that it could have distracted the young driver.
“It is a real sad case and we will never know for sure to what extent that distracted him,” Tassone said.
The CHP investigation ruled out other road conditions as contributing factors.
“There were no signs of skidding or other problems on the roadway,” Tassone said. Responding emergency personnel transported Edwards to the North San Juan Fire Station, located at 13200 Tyler Foote Road, where he was transferred to a medical helicopter that took him to Grass Valley’s Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.
Edwards was pronounced dead at 10:17 a.m., according to the CHP.
“A very high percentage of the fatal vehicle incidents we investigated (in 2013) involved not wearing a seat belts,” Tassone said, estimating that 30 to 40 percent do not wear seat belts. “It’s an obvious correlation.”
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.