Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate

Highway Patrol investigators have yet to determine what caused a semi truck to cross the centerline of U.S. 101 at Klamath and collide with a California Highway Patrol car, causing major injuries to Officer Jose Martinez, #14951.

Martinez was trapped in his CHP car awaiting emergency personnel when something in the engine bay of the patrol car caught fire. Officers from the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office, Yurok Tribal Police and CHP arrived at the scene to help.

Law enforcement officers and fire personnel worked together throughout the extrication process.

Firefighters had to cut the roof from the car, remove the prisoner cage and put the dash and steering column with a chain secured to a fire vehicle in order to make room.

At one point, Sheriff Erik Apperson used a fire hose to flood the engine area and dashboard area of the car while personnel worked to free Martinez from the wreckage.

The collision was reported at 2:58 p.m. Thursday, and Martinez was cut from the car at around 4 p.m.

CHP Commander Lt. Larry Depee was also onscene during the extrication and could only say the crash was under investigation. As to why it happened, investigators were still working on it as Martinez was taken to Sutter Coast Emergency room by ground ambulance.

Hospital staff said they could not release Martinez’s condition following his arrival at the emergency room.

The driver of the semi was unhurt in the crash. His name was not provided but the truck was from Southern Cal Transport, Beaverton, Oregon. No other passengers were in either vehicle.

More information will be reported as it becomes available.