Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Fatal Vehicle Accident on Highway 20 Five Miles East of Fort Bragg


At approximately 10:58 a.m., a vehicle went off Highway 20 approximately five miles east of Fort Bragg resulting in a fatality. Scanner traffic indicated an 11-44 (deceased individual)had occurred and the coroner was called to the scene.

According to a since deleted log from the California Highway Patrol Traffic Incident Information page, the vehicle went off the roadway near the Wildwood Campground and RV Park descending approximately 10 feet when it hit a tree that stopped it from descending further. The Incident Information page indicated first responders first noticed the driver was unconscious, then later, over the scanner, called the coroner to the scene.

Please remember these five safety tips when driving in the rain: 1)Slow Down 2) Maintain a Safe Distance 3)Avoid Heavy Braking 4)Use Your Lights 5)Use Windshield Wipers.

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  1. I was driving east on 20 this Xmas morning when I came to a corner with some crash debris on the road and a couple of cars parked alongside the road a little further up. I rolled down my window and asked the couple walking back from their car toward the corner with the car debris if they needed any help with anything, thinking they might have been in an accident with the other car (truck?) parked there. They explained that very shortly before I arrived they’d been coming up 20, going east, and when they came to that corner there was a lot of dust in the air going from the roadway off over the side of the highway and down a steep hillside and into the trees/forest. We walked back to the corner together, looking over the down-slope edge of the road and pretty quickly saw the vehicle about 10’ down the embankment, smashed against a big tree, perpendicular to the tree, passenger side against the tree. The couple surmised that it had rolled prior to hitting the tree, and the debris on the roadway and the damage to the entire vehicle certainly makes that a real possibility. I wondered if the driver had to suddenly swerve out of the way of something or what might have happened. Speed could certainly have been a factor, judging by the *severe* damage to the vehicle.

    We called out to anyone who might be in the car, but no response. Judging by the damage, a response seemed extremely unlikely. We couldn’t see into the vehicle because all of the glass was shattered and the airbag and tree branches were obscuring things. I climbed down the embankment to below the car, thinking it would be a safer route to then go up to the car through the trees/branches, and looked around for anyone that might have been thrown out, as there were some car parts and personal belongings scattered down the hillside. Then I made my way up through the tree branches to the driver’s side, which was upslope of the tree. Another guy there helped me pull the branches out of the driver’s side of the car so we could see if there was anyone that we could help, but when we finally found the guy, it was pretty grim. There was no response — I assumed he was deceased. Just about then we heard a siren and scrambled up to the road where an officer was arriving and he went down to investigate and called in some more help. The rest of us then all left the scene, as there was really nothing we could do to help.

    Condolences to this poor guy and his family, friends, and anyone who knew him!

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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