Alleged drunken driver in critical condition after Hwy 174 crash |

Alleged drunken driver in critical condition after Hwy 174 crash

David Warnhoff
John Hart | The Union

A Grass Valley man was flown to Roseville with major injuries and is not expected to live, after allegedly causing a wreck on Highway 174 Monday evening.

Vaughn Martindale, 43, was driving a Ford SUV on Highway 174 near Rattlesnake Road at a high rate of speed at about 7:30 p.m. when he lost control on a curve, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Just a few minutes earlier, a driver on Highway 174 near Brunswick Road had reported a vehicle driving at a high rate of speed, leaving the road and driving up a steep embankment before coming back onto the highway and continuing toward Grass Valley.

Martindale’s SUV ran off the edge of the road near Rattlesnake and, according to the CHP, over-corrected to the left, traveling back onto the highway directly into the path of a Subaru wagon driven southbound by Moire Donald, 56, of Grass Valley.

The two vehicles collided, causing the SUV to overturn and catch on fire. Passersby and emergency personnel were able to extricate Martindale from his SUV before it was engulfed in flames, according to the CHP report.

Martindale was believed to have been driving under the influence, as there was a “strong odor of alcohol,” said CHP Officer Marc Morrison.

He was flown to Sutter Roseville Medical Center with life-threatening head injuries, and was not expected to live, Morrison said. A hospital spokeswoman said he was in critical condition.

Donald was taken to Auburn Faith Hospital with minor injuries. Donald’s passenger, Jeffery Chessher, 69, was taken to Roseville with minor injuries and was reported to be in fair condition.

Highway 174 was closed for several hours and drivers were detoured, until the road reopened a little after 10 p.m. The accident remains under investigation.

Alleged drunken driver linked to two hit-and-run accidents

A Penn Valley man was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and hit and run, causing injury, after allegedly causing two collisions earlier Monday night.

David Eugene Warnhoff, 56, was driving a pickup truck on Ridge Road and was approaching the intersection with Zion Street just before 5:30 p.m. when he lost control, spun out and hit another vehicle, Morrison said. The driver of the other vehicle was not injured and followed Warnhoff as he drove away, Morrison said.

Warnhoff then drove back up Ridge Road and through a stop sign at Via Vista, colliding with a vehicle occupied by an older couple, Morrison said.

The male driver sustained a head laceration and his female passenger might have sustained broken ribs.

Warnhoff again allegedly left the scene, A CHP officer located the pickup in Morgan Ranch and then found Warnhoff on foot, Morrison said. He was booked into county jail and is being held in lieu of $25,000 bail.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email or call (530) 477-4229.

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