CHP seeks public’s help in finding hit-and-run driver | TheUnion.com

CHP seeks public’s help in finding hit-and-run driver

The California Highway Patrol is asking for the public's help in finding the driver of a truck that hit a motorcyclist Sunday afternoon on Highway 49 and fled the scene. The male driver of the white Ford Ranger pickup was driving on Rooster Hill Road at about 2:40 p.m. and pulled out onto Highway 49, north of the South Fork of the Yuba River, said CHP spokesman Greg Tassone. The man pulled out directly ahead of a line of vehicles traveling northbound on the highway, possibly trying to make a U-turn, Tassone said. The first two vehicles swerved into the oncoming lane to avoid a collision, but a motorcycle behind them was unable to avoid a collision and struck the pickup truck nearly head-on. The rider, identified as Steven Kohlbaker, 64, of Nevada City, was ejected over the hood of the pickup and onto the ground, where he rolled several times before coming to rest, Tassone said. He reportedly sustained major injuries to the arms and torso. North San Juan Fire Department EMTs, together with Cal Fire engine 2360, provided patient care at the scene, said North San Juan Fire spokesman Christoffer Montelius. An air ambulance was ordered and a Sierra Nevada ambulance transported Kohlbaker to North San Juan station 3. Kohlbaker was then flown by air ambulance helicopter to Sutter Roseville Medical Center, where he was listed in serious condition. The driver of the Ford Ranger fled the scene southbound on Highway 49 toward Nevada City, Tassone said. The witnesses remained at the scene and provided a solid description of the vehicle and driver, but the truck was not located despite an area search. The truck was described as a Ford Ranger-style pickup, white in color, possibly with a black "bra" over the front. The truck is a late model, late 1980s to early 1990s, with collision damage to the left front of the vehicle and with broken light housings. The man driving was described as white, approximately 35 years old, with dark hair. Anyone with information is asked to immediately contact the Grass Valley office of the CHP at 530-477-4900. To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email lkellar@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.

NC man killed in solo crash

Rescuers were unable to save the life of a Nevada City man who was partially ejected and pinned under his pickup truck in a single-vehicle accident. John Newton Jr., 60, was driving a 2008 Dodge Ram pickup northbound on Highway 49 north of North San Juan approaching the Middle Yuba River when the accident occurred at about 5:55 p.m. Friday, according to a California Highway Patrol report. It was not known how fast Newton was driving, but he allegedly was not wearing a seatbelt, the report said. It was raining at the time of the accident. Newton swerved to the right for unknown reasons and ran off the road, causing the truck to spin clockwise and then overturn on its left side. Newton was partially ejected through the driver’s side window and was pinned under the truck, according to the report. A tow truck driver from Celestial Valley came upon the scene of the accident soon after it occurred, and used his winch and cable to lift the pickup away from where it was pinning Newton. North San Juan Firefighters responded and attempted to resuscitate Newton, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. The northbound lane of Highway 49 was blocked for about two hours . To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, e-mail lkellar@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4229.

Man killed in single car accident

Rescuers were unable to save the life of a Nevada City man who was partially ejected and pinned under his pickup truck in a single-vehicle accident. John Newton Jr., 60, was driving a 2008 Dodge Ram pickup northbound on Highway 49 north of North San Juan approaching the Middle Yuba River when the accident occurred at about 5:55 p.m. Friday, according to a California Highway Patrol report. It was not known how fast Newton was driving, but he allegedly was not wearing a seatbelt, the report said. It was raining at the time of the accident. Newton swerved to the right for unknown reasons and ran off the road, causing the truck to spin clockwise and then overturn on its left side. Newton was partially ejected through the driver’s side window and was pinned under the truck, according to the report. A tow truck driver from Celestial Valley came upon the scene of the accident soon after it occurred, and used his winch and cable to lift the pickup away from where it was pinning Newton. North San Juan firefighters responded and attempted to resuscitate Newton, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. The northbound lane of Highway 49 was blocked for about two hours. To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, e-mail lkellar@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4229.

Unsafe driving on Highway 49

I have noticed a number of drivers on Highway 49 between North San Juan and town who seem to feel that it is their duty to make sure that everyone drives well below the speed limit in the areas where you cannot pass. That I can live with. What worries me is that some of these drivers then view it as a contest to keep as many drivers behind them as possible. They suddenly speed up when they hit a legal passing lane, only to slow down again once they’ve passed it. I have observed other drivers who attempt to go around them and are foiled. I have observed other drivers who do go around them at the last possible second, winning the “contest.” These “slow ’em down, speed ’em up” drivers are likely to cause an accident, in which a totally innocent third car will pay the price in a head-on collision. I saw a near miss southbound at the blind curve after the first pullout south of the Yuba Bridge. The car they would have hit, which fortunately arrived 15 second too late, was a CHP cruiser. So, if slow for the curves, slow for passing too. Douglas Keachie North San Juan

Woman severely injured in car accident identified

A woman severely injured in an car accident just before noon Monday near North San Juan has been identified. Cheryl Kelley, 58, a North San Juan resident, was traveling at an undetermined speed southbound on Highway 49 near Sweetland Road at 11:34 a.m, according to a release by California Highway Patrol. Kelley reportedly lost control of the vehicle — a 2006 Toyota Tacoma truck — and drifted to the right and off the west roadway edge of Highway 49. The left front of the truck struck a large tree trunk, which caused major damage to the vehicle and severe injury to the driver. The driver was pinned in the vehicle while the fire personnel cut out the roof and doors of the truck to extricate her. Kelley was then flown via helicopter to Sutter Roseville Hospital. As of Tuesday afternoon, Kelley was listed in critical condition, according to Robin Montgomery, Sutter-Roseville hospital spokeswoman. The cause of the collision remains under investigation. To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email jterman@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.

Collision claims life

Traveling south on Highway 49 Friday afternoon, Diane Fragall of North San Juan watched as four cars in front of her collided in a fatal instant. The crash at Old Downieville Highway near Nevada City left a female driver dead and sent three others to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital with minor to moderate injuries. “It’s pretty horrific when you see someone under that kind of trauma,” Fragall said at the scene. “It was not a pleasant sight.” California Highway Patrol officer Randy Corbett said the names of those involved in the accident had not been released Friday night. He said the northbound driver of a black Jeep Grand Cherokee drifted over the center line, striking the southbound Fiesta “headlight to headlight.” The force of the collision sent both vehicles spinning. Fragall said the Jeep spun into a southbound gray Chevrolet Malibu being driven by a man. She said a woman driving the Jeep, a 5-year-old passenger in the Jeep and the Malibu driver were all taken to the hospital by ambulance. The collision threw the Fiesta driver almost completely out of the car, Fragall said. “It all happened in about three seconds.” A fourth vehicle being driven by a North San Juan man hit the back of the Jeep, but that driver was not injured, Corbett said. “They were apparently all wearing seat belts.” The Fiesta ended up on the east shoulder of the road with the front end smashed into the front seat. The Jeep sat in the middle of the road, its front left front wheel bent up under the engine. The Malibu was left overturned in a ditch on the west shoulder. The accident closed the highway for two hours and remained under investigation late Friday.

Travel advisory, accident near North San Juan

A travel advisory is in effect until 4 p.m. today due to high winds and rain whipping through Northern California. At noon, the California Highway Patrol accident Web site reported a pickup truck had slid off Highway 49 north of North San Juan. The driver was reportedly unconscious and an ambulance was dispatched to the scene just south of Marysville Road near Camptonville. No snow chain controls were in effect at 12:30 p.m. on area Sierra highways 20, 49 or Interstate 80. However, the CHP traffic advisory line warned truck drivers and those with tall vehicles to be cautious. The National Weather Service in Sacramento said winds from 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph are expected through the day. Those winds and driving rains from the new storm will continue to cause slick roads and bad visibility.

CHP on the lookout for driver after fatal hit-and-run accident Tuesday night

A Nevada City woman died last night after she was struck by a hit-and-run driver in North San Juan. The woman, who has been identified as Frances Blankenship, 48, left the Brass Rail bar at about 8 p.m. Tuesday and was headed south in the northbound lane of Highway 49 on foot when she was struck by a vehicle traveling north, according to a California Highway Patrol report. The incident occurred south of the Highway 49 and School Street intersection. The vehicle dragged the victim about 200 feet, according to the report. She died on impact, the report concluded. The driver then fled the scene. No one witnessed the collision and the woman was left in the northbound lane, according to the report. A second driver in the northbound lane saw what he thought was a dead deer and slowed down, but he hit her with the right side of his tire, dragging her another 20 to 30 feet, according to the report. Realizing the body was not that of a deer, the driver stopped and called 9-1-1. The accident is still under investigation, according to the CHP. Officers are unclear what kind of vehicle hit the woman, but are looking for one with front end damage, possibly a pickup truck.

Hit-run driver kills woman

A Nevada City woman died after she was struck by a hit-and-run driver in North San Juan late Tuesday. The woman, who has been identified as Frances Blankenship, 48, left the Brass Rail bar at about 8 p.m. Tuesday and was walking south in the northbound lane of Highway 49 when she was struck by a vehicle traveling north, according to a California Highway Patrol report. The incident occurred south of the Highway 49 and School Street intersection. The vehicle dragged Blankenship about 200 feet, and she died on impact, the report concluded. The driver then fled the scene. No one witnessed the collision and Blankenship was left in the northbound lane, according to the report. A second driver in the northbound lane saw what he thought was a dead deer and slowed down, but he hit her with the right side of his tire, dragging her another 20 to 30 feet, according to the report. Realizing the body was not that of a deer, the driver stopped and called 9-1-1. The accident is still under investigation, according to the CHP. Officers are unclear what kind of vehicle hit the woman, but are looking for one with front-end damage, possibly a pickup truck. To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, e-mail lkellar@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4229. Staff writer Kyle Magin contributed to this report.

North San Juan wreck: Pickup truck falls 100 feet down embankment

A truck on Wednesday fell 100 feet down an embankment off Highway 49 near North San Juan, requiring first-responders to extricate the man from his vehicle and fly him to a Roseville hospital, authorities said. The man, who was alert when firefighters reached him, was driving south on the highway around 7:30 a.m. when the wreck happened, said Shawn Olson, an engineer with the North San Juan Fire Department. "He crossed into oncoming traffic and went off his left side of the road," Olson added. "We don't know why." Firefighters responded to the scene, about a half mile south of Reader Ranch Road, and extricated the driver from the truck. They then carried him up the embankment to the road, where an ambulance took him to the Eric Rood Administrative Center in Nevada City. From there he was flown to Roseville, Olson said. Traffic near the wreck was unaffected.