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Crash kills 1, hurts 3

John HartA small car carrying four young men crashed about 20 miles north of Nevada City on Highway 20 Tuesday afternoon. In the far right, rescue personnel are working on one of the crash victims.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

One man died and three men were injured Tuesday after their car skidded out of control on Highway 20 about 20 miles east of Nevada City, and struck a tree.

The driver, a 20-year-old Grass Valley-area man, died at the scene. Two others were unconscious with head injuries and later listed in critical condition. The fourth man suffered a broken thigh bone – or femur – and was in fair condition.

The three survivors went in separate helicopters to Sutter Roseville Medical Center. The men’s names weren’t immediately released because their families hadn’t been notified, but California Highway Patrol Sgt. Mike Lawrence said all are in their 20s and reside in the Grass Valley area.



The crash occurred just after 4 p.m. a half-mile east of Lowell Hill Road as the men’s white Toyota Corolla station wagon headed west. The rescue response blocked traffic off and on for roughly 90 minutes, until about 5:35 p.m.

No witnesses saw the crash. However, tire tracks along the gravel shoulder and skid marks on the pavement showed where the car went off the road, causing the driver to over-correct his steering. That caused the car to slide sideways before wrapping around a pine tree, crushing the driver’s door.




The front seat passenger and right-rear seat passenger were unconscious, and the left-rear seat passenger who suffered the broken leg briefly mumbled, said Jerry Hall, a Grass Valley resident on his way home from the Reno airport.

“He just asked where he was. He was going into shock,” Hall said after medics eased the survivors into ambulances.

Hall said he and other motorists checked the driver’s pulse but didn’t feel anything. Then they pulled the survivors from the car.

CHP Officer Rod Akin said one patient was in dire shape and contending with blood in his airway.

One by one, the survivors were taken by ambulance to a turnoff near Lowell Hill Road and loaded into helicopters. Two CALSTAR and one CHP helicopter responded.

Battalion Chief Spike Newby of Nevada County Consolidated Fire District said one helicopter was forced to land on a street or parking lot near the hospital because of air traffic congestion.

“This is the first time I’ve ever used three helicopters,” he said.

“It’s kind of a rare,” Lawrence said later, “but when you’re that far out, even a moderate injury needs immediate attention.”

The driver’s body was extricated from the car in the CHP’s Grass Valley lot.

Akin said the CHP is looking into whether alcohol was involved.


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