Electrical wires downed: SP man not injured in 101 chain reaction crashes

February 01, 2012
Santa Paula News

A Santa Paulan was one of a handful of drivers involved in four separate chain reaction traffic collisions early Thursday that started with downed power lines and closed both the northbound and southbound lanes of Highway 101/Ventura Freeway just north of Del Norte Boulevard in the Oxnard area.

According to California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Reid, the incident began at about 4:40 a.m. as a dump truck was on the right northbound Highway 101 shoulder working in a construction zone. Reid said Victor Gonzalez, 56 of San Fernando, was driving a 1989 Kenworth dump truck at about two to three miles per hour northbound on the freeway’s right shoulder while working in the construction zone, with the dump portion of his truck “fully extended” after dumping a load of asphalt.  

“As Gonzalez pulled forward to allow an additional dump truck into his position for the working crew, he failed to lower the dump portion of his truck” and the extended dump struck several power lines that extended across the northbound and southbound lanes of US-101. Reid said the power lines were pulled and “collapsed, causing them to hang at a low height across the freeway lanes and offramps.”

Miguel Matias Cruz, 43, a resident of Salinas, was driving a 2012 Peterbuilt semi-truck northbound in the middle lane traveling at 40 miles per hour when the CB antenna of his truck struck the low hanging power lines. “The impact with the power lines,” noted Reid, “caused complete electrical system failure, disabling Cruz’s truck.”

Next up was Jose Perez Sanchez, 45, of Ventura, who was driving a 1999 Toyota truck as he was exiting the freeway southbound at Del Norte Blvd. Antonio Martinez, 51 of Santa Paula, was driving a 1999 Chevrolet truck, and was also exiting the freeway directly behind Sanchez’s vehicle.  

Reid said as the two vehicles exited the freeway, “They became entangled in the down power lines and collided with each other,” when another vehicle exiting the freeway behind them driven by Ramona Hernandez Flores, 26 of Ventura, struck the rear ends of both vehicles tangled in the electrical lines.

Another drive, Edward Galik, 41, was driving a 1994 Plymouth van southbound in the middle lane at approximately 65 miles per hour when his vehicle struck the low hanging power lines, shattering his windshield. Galik complained of back pain and was transported by ambulance to St. John’s Hospital for treatment of his minor injuries. 

Reid said there were no other injuries in the series of collisions. The heavily traveled 101 was closed in both directions for approximately 46 minutes due to the downed power lines and the disabled vehicles in the roadway. Reid said the freeway was reopened at 5:32 a.m., although the Del Norte Blvd. northbound onramp remained closed as crews from Southern California Edison worked to make the necessary repairs. 

The collisions are under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.

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