Authorities: No quick ID for wreck victims; Highway 20 could stay closed until Friday | TheUnion.com

Authorities: No quick ID for wreck victims; Highway 20 could stay closed until Friday

Authorities said Thursday that no formal identification will occur quickly for the two people who died in a fuel tanker wreck this week that's kept Highway 20 closed from Nevada City to the intersection of Interstate 80.

The Placer County Sheriff's Office scheduled autopsies for today, though the chief deputy coroner said any identification must come from dental records or DNA tests because of the bodies' conditions.

Dental records could lead to the identification of one victim, possibly within days. DNA must be used in the other, Chief Deputy Coroner David Clark said.

"DNA takes a while," he added. "Could be a couple of weeks, maybe a month."

The wreck happened around 10:10 a.m. Wednesday on Highway 20, near Bowman Lake Road. The crash — involving a Kilroy's Towing Service truck and a Stockton-based Williams Tank Lines fuel tanker — caused an explosion, sending flames 40 to 50 feet in the air, the California Highway Patrol has said.

Authorities closed the highway. It remained shuttered into Thursday afternoon and could stay closed until today.

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Caltrans said it awarded an emergency contract to Hansen Brothers Enterprises of Grass Valley to fix the road. The company got an asphalt grinder from Sacramento to grind the pavement, allowing workers to learn the damage's severity.

"It all depends on what the contractor finds when they grind off the surface of the asphalt," said Liza Whitmore, Caltrans spokeswoman, in an email. "If no further damage, the repairs can start right away. If further damage to the roadbed is found, then additional work will be necessary before the roadway can be returned to satisfactory condition."

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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