Grass Valley man injured in crash
A 23-year-old Grass Valley man was hospitalized in serious condition Tuesday morning after the driver of the sports utility vehicle in which he was riding fell asleep and crashed on Highway 20.
California Highway Patrol officers found Heineken beer bottles littering the accident scene at 8:04 a.m., along with some marijuana inside the wrecked 1998 Toyota 4-Runner driven by Noel Braystmichals, 21, of North San Juan.
Braystmichals and his passenger – Zack Patton, 23, of Grass Valley – were returning home from a trip to Reno when Braystmichals fell asleep and veered onto the right shoulder of the highway near Valencia Road, CHP Officer Jim Donovan said.
The 4-Runner hit a tree, spun around and landed on its side on the north edge of the highway.
Patton was believed to have been sleeping in the passenger’s seat and had not been wearing a seatbelt.
Patton was airlifted with serious injuries to Sutter Roseville Medical Center. He was in serious condition Tuesday afternoon, according to hospital spokeswoman Robin Montgomery.
“Probably the only thing that saved (Patton) was the airbags,” Donovan said. “Otherwise, he probably would have gone through the windshield.”
Braystmichals had been wearing his seat belt. He complained of minor pain and was able to walk at the scene of the accident, Donovan said.
He was treated at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and released later Tuesday morning, hospital spokesman Craig Wilcox said.
Braystmichals told investigators he bought the 4-Runner on Monday. He and Patton had spent the entire evening installing a new sound system in the vehicle, Donovan said.
Donovan said both young men had been drinking, but investigators have not determined whether Braystmichals’ blood-alcohol level was above the legal limit.
Results of a blood test taken at the hospital would most likely be available within two weeks. Depending on the results, the CHP may file a DUI complaint with the District Attorney’s Office, CHP Officer Nelson Acevedo said.
At least three unopened bottles of Heineken beer were inside the car, along with a broken bottle on the ground.
“There could have been more under the vehicle,” Donovan said.
Officers also found a small plastic bag of marijuana inside the 4-Runner. Less than an ounce of the drug was inside the bag, Donovan said. Investigators have not determined whether either of the accident victims had a doctor’s recommendation to smoke marijuana.
The accident is still under investigation, Acevedo said.
To contact Staff Writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm@the union.com or call 477-4236.
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