Car crash kills one
A Grass Valley man died and his girlfriend was seriously injured Wednesday after their car missed a curve on McCourtney Road and slammed into a pine tree a couple miles south of the Nevada County fairgrounds.
James Byrd, 34, died at the scene, where he was found in the driver’s seat of a 1973 Pontiac Grand Prix, strapped in by a lap belt, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The passenger, 32-year-old Lynn Allen of Grass Valley, went by CALSTAR helicopter to Sutter Roseville Medical Center, where she was in the trauma unit Wednesday night.
The crash occurred about 1:45 p.m. in a northbound curve, south of the southernmost Thoroughbred Loop connection.
Allen’s brother, Danny Allen, said the couple was returning to Grass Valley after bringing him cigarettes at the McCourtney Road Transfer Station, where Allen and Byrd were Waste Management co-workers.
“He was a great guy,” Danny Allen said before heading to Sutter Roseville. He said Byrd had worked for Waste Management about a month and had the day off Wednesday. The driver and Lynn Allen had planned to marry, he said.
It appears the couple’s car, which was registered to Lynn Allen, missed a left curve, went off the right side of the road and struck the tree, buckling the car’s hood and gouging the tree. Tire grooves in the gravel shoulder, but no asphalt skid marks, preceded the crash.
The car spun after striking the tree and crashed through a wooden fence on the property of Dave Ferguson, who cleared his horses to make room for the helicopter.
“It’s been a bad corner forever, but when they repaired the curve, it’s been very safe. I don’t know …,” he said, looking over the crash scene.
Battalion Chief Vern Canon of the Nevada County Consolidated Fire District has responded to numerous crashes at the curve over the years.
“We used to have a lot more because it was such a short turn, but these things can happen,” he said.
The crash was among three that occurred in quick succession Wednesday. A man went by ambulance to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital with minor injuries after a broadside collision on Rough and Ready Highway near Squirrel Creek Road.
A rear-end collision on Highway 49 near Newtown Road resulted in minor injuries to a woman who went in an ambulance to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, 49er Battalion Chief David Ray said.
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