Big rig crash in Grass Valley leads to 1 death

A tractor-trailer has its leaking fuel tanks contained Tuesday morning before being towed from the northbound lanes of Highway 49, near Alta Sierra Drive, after colliding with a Toyota pickup. The occupant of the pickup died.
Elias Funez

A driver swerving to avoid a deer Tuesday morning on Highway 49 collided head-on with a big rig, ejecting the driver and killing her, the California Highway Patrol said.

The wreck closed traffic on Highway 49, at Alta Sierra Drive, for hours.

The wreck happened around 6:25 a.m. An eyewitness told authorities that a gray Toyota pickup was driving north when it swerved to miss the deer. The pickup struck the deer, killing it, before moving into the southbound lanes, colliding with the big rig, Sgt. Tom Vandre said.

The force of the impact caused the Toyota driver — Tina Terrell, 48, of Grass Valley — to be ejected from the pickup. She died on the scene, authorities said.

The big rig was forced into the northbound lane, where it hit an embankment. It came to rest against a dirt berm, and its trailer was blocking the northbound route, the sergeant said.

The tractor’s saddle gas tanks spilled about 100 gallons of diesel fuel, which was mostly contained in the dirt berm, preventing it from spreading further. The fuel was quickly cleared, Vandre and reports stated.

“We’re diverting northbound traffic to Alta Sierra Drive, and then to Little Valley Road, which takes you back to the 49,” Vandre said.

The driver of the big rig was uninjured, Vandre said.

William Roller is a staff writer with The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at

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