Local man killed in Dr. Fine Bridge wreck

By Aaron West / The Del Norte Triplicate

A driver traveling on the Dr. Fine Bridge on Highway 101 was killedTuesday morning when he drifted across the double line and collidedhead-on with a 70,000-pound 18-wheeler.

Jaime M. Torres, 39, of Crescent City, was traveling northbound on thebridge shortly before 11 a.m. when, for unknown reasons, he crossed the double line into the 18-wheeler's path, according to California Highway Patrol. The truck driver walked away uninjured. An investigation of the crash is ongoing.

Officer Deina Hernandez of CHP said that upon collision, the truckdriver, who was carrying a full load of wood chips from Coos Bay, Ore., lost control of his vehicle and traveled 60 feet down the western embankment.

"As it was going down the embankment it overturned," Hernandez said.

Arrangements have been made to retrieve the truck, and the highwaywill remain open during that process, Hernandez said. The bridge was closed for about three hours Tuesday while investigators processed the scene and debris was cleared. During that time traffic was rerouted via Highways 199 and 197.

The Mazda, which sustained severe front-end damage, hit the easternguardrail on the bridge and ended up facing west in the northbound lane. Torres died upon impact, Hernandez said. According to Sheriff Dean Wilson, an autopsy will determine if perhaps a medical issue, or drugs or alcohol caused him to cross into the opposite lane.

Wier's Mortuary, Fort Dick Fire, Smith River Fire, California, DelNorte County Sheriff's Office, Caltrans, and Del Norte Ambulance responded.

Construction planned for the Dr. Fine Bridge today was unaffected bythe accident because crews were working underneath the bridge at the time of the accident, Hernandez said.

Any witnesses of the accident should contact CHP at 707-464-3117.

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The Del Norte Triplicate
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