Two killed in Labor Day weekend accidents |

Two killed in Labor Day weekend accidents

A busy but relatively lawful Labor Day weekend was reported in the Truckee-Tahoe area, although two reported fatal accidents marred the holiday.

A Gardnerville man was killed Friday when he was hit by a vehicle while crossing Interstate 80 east of Floriston.

Ernest Chee, 37, was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to the California Highway Patrol, Chee, who was employed by the Fontana Steel Co., of Stockton, was working on the Floriston Bridge replacement project.

He was standing on the south shoulder of the freeway about 6 a.m. waiting to cross the eastbound lanes when he stepped out into the lane.

Truckee CHP public affairs officer Todd A. Kettwig said the man apparently didn’t see the oncoming 1988 Toyota driven by a San Jose resident.

The Toyota’s driver stepped on the brakes, honked his horn and swerved, but was unable to avoid hitting the man.

Elsewhere in the area, a Reno man was killed in an accident Monday on Mt. Rose Highway.

Freddie E. Bartlett, 21, was driving a Suzuki motorcycle east on State Route 431 when he lost control around 4:15 p.m. The Suzuki crossed into the path of a 2000 GMC sport utility vehicle, hitting it head on.

Bartlett was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the GMC, Brian Matson, 33, of Reno, was taken to Incline Village Health Center with minor injuries.

Bartlett was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. The accident is under investigation.

Three separate incidents of lost hikers were also reported over the weekend, two on South Shore and one in Squaw Valley.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Unit was called twice in three hours Saturday night to track hikers who lost their way.

One group, a father and his 10-year-old daughter, got separated from a friend and hiked for four hours in a drainage area, Lonely Gulch, before making it back to the friend’s Tahoma home. By then, nine people and a helicopter were heading to Rubicon Point to search for them.

At 7:15 p.m., Deputy Terry Fleck ended the search and rescue mission before it got started by phoning the friend, Mark Calhoun, who had returned home.

“They were cold and tired and had no equipment and no flashlight,” Fleck said.

“It’s typical to have day hikers become separated or leave the trail and become disoriented. Hopefully these are both inexpensive lessons – inexpensive lessons because nothing happened to all four of these victims.”

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