Nightmare on Hwy. 49 – Woman cut out of mangled car after an hour
A tire rolling in the middle of Highway 49 on Friday afternoon caused a two-car crash that trapped an Auburn woman in her car for an hour as emergency crews tried to remove her.
After exhausting all of their rescue tools and slicing the top of the car, Nevada County Consolidated Fire District crews were able to pull Josephine Farrugia, 67, from the smashed Mercedes she had been driving, Fire Chief Tim Fike said.
Fike called the rescue “very complicated … a one-hour extrication. That’s unheard of for us.”
Farrugia was airlifted to Sutter Roseville Medical Center with neck, rib, hip, and ankle injuries, said California Highway Patrol Officer Randy Corbett. She remained in serious condition Friday evening, said hospital spokeswoman Robin Montgomery.
The tire reportedly fell off a southbound Dodge truck near Christian Life Way at about 12:20 p.m. It rolled into the northbound lane into the path of a large pickup towing a 21-foot pontoon boat, Corbett said.
Pickup driver James Uhl of Penn Valley swerved across the center line, smashing into the Mercedes, authorities said. The collision slammed the Mercedes into an embankment and flipped the boat. The truck and boat trailer flew onto the Mercedes, leaving all vehicles mangled at the side of the road.
Rescue personnel reached Uhl, who suffered back injuries, and loaded him onto an helicopter bound for Sutter Roseville Medical Center. His passenger, Michael Reible, 58, of San Gabriel, was driven by ambulance to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital with head injuries, Corbett said.
Reible was released Friday afternoon, according to a hospital spokeswoman. Montgomery said she believed Uhl also had been released Friday afternoon.
The crash delayed drivers between Auburn and Grass Valley for several hours. Northbound traffic was backed up to Alta Sierra, and the jam extended north to McKnight Way, Corbett said.
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