Storm brings flurry of accidents to I-80 | SierraSun.com
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Storm brings flurry of accidents to I-80

Renee Shadforth
Colin FisherKeith Kerrigan, who runs Sierra Anglers in the summer, gets his first customer of the winter on Friday morning.
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An early morning crash on Interstate 80 on Friday provided a sobering reminder that along with the snow comes sometimes-dangerous driving conditions.

Ten big rigs and six passenger cars, heading east on Interstate 80 just west of town, lost control in the slippery conditions, setting off a chain reaction accident shortly after 2:30 a.m., said Kirk Bromell, California Highway Patrol public affairs officer. During the morning commute the highway was closed to big rigs and motorists were advised to take an alternate route.

The investigation of the crash is ongoing and will take approximately 10 more days, Bromell said.

“We have several guys working on several different crashes,” he said. “We have to get everybody’s statement, but it’s not something we can’t wait a few days for, so they can get all of their personal matters (from the crash) in order.”

One vehicle, a UPS truck, drove off the embankment and slid at least 100 feet before it burst into flames, causing a grass fire, said CHP Officer Eric Strecker. The fire was extinguished by California Department of Forestry firefighters.

Strecker said there were at least 10 crashes involving as many as 30 vehicles on Friday morning.

In all, 11 people were taken to the Tahoe Forest Hospital, said Teri Smith, hospital spokeswoman.

The first patient at Tahoe Forest Hospital arrived just after 5 a.m. after an ambulance on the way to the accident scene ran off the road and had to be pulled back onto the roadway.

Eight of the patients were treated for minor injuries – mostly cuts and abrasions – and released.

Yamina Hive, 21 of Oakland, was taken by ambulance to Washoe Medical Center in unstable condition with neck and back injuries, Smith said.

This week Hive remains in the hospital in fair condition, said Judy Davis, Washoe Medical Center spokeswoman.

Truck-driver Lee Sparks, 74, sustained a fractured rib and remained at Tahoe Forest Hospital overnight.

Autar Singh, 40, was in a car at the time of the accident. He was transported to the hospital for minor burns.

The highway’s westbound lanes were opened just before 7 a.m. Friday. During the accident clean-up, eastbound I-80 was closed to big rigs, and passenger cars were detoured on the old highway. The eastbound lanes were reopened early in the afternoon.

Big rig overturns Tuesday

In another accident on the interstate, a big rig carrying meat products overturned early Tuesday morning, halting eastbound traffic at the Nyak exit for approximately one hour.

The driver of the truck, Leslie Kilgore, 49 of Muscatine, Iowa, fell asleep at the wheel while traveling eastbound on the interstate at 4:25 a.m., said officer Greg Cassina of Gold Run California Highway Patrol. Kilgore lost control of the big rig, which hit the left guardrail and came to rest on its side blocking both eastbound lanes, according to police reports.

The driver had minor injuries and no other vehicles were involved in the crash. None of the meat products spilled from the truck.

A tow company removed a portion of the truck from the right lane with a crane, allowing eastbound traffic to continue.

At 9:30 a.m. CHP held eastbound traffic for one hour to remove the big rig.

“The traffic was backed up only one mile to a mile and a half due to the early time,” Cassina said.

Several CHP officers, three big rig tow companies and six CalTrans employees responded to the scene of the accident.

Nyak is located approximately 35 miles west of Truckee.

– The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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