California Highway Patrol is investigating how a Ford Windstar wound up in the Smith River at a troubled area of U.S. 199 early Friday morning.
The motorist was traveling southbound when she went over the side of the embankment at about 12:50 a.m., according to CHP Public Information Officer Brandy Gonzalez. The incident occurred north of milepost marker 10.35, Gonzalez said, the site of previous wrecks that involved a vehicle leaving the road and tumbling into the river including two fatal accidents in 2016.
According to Gonzalez, the motorist involved in Friday’s wreck, the only occupant in the car, sustained minor injuries. Gonzalez said the case is still under investigation.
Del Norte Ambulance and the Gasquet Volunteer Fire Department also responded to the collision.
According to Gasquet Fire Chief Nick Karanopoulos, the minivan was in about two feet of water. He speculated the motorist traveled more than 100 feet down the riverbank.
Karanopoulos noted the scene of the wreck is “where we get a lot of cars in the river.”
“Kind of close to where she went off is where another van had went off (the highway) a year or two ago,” Karanopoulos said, referring to a February 2016 wreck that resulted in the death of two Crescent City men. “She was very lucky that the river is still very low for this time of year.”
Meanwhile, Caltrans is seeking public input on a project to improve safety along that stretch of highway.
Caltrans proposes to build a guardrail, widen shoulders and install a high friction surface treatment between mile markers 10.255 and 10.69 of U.S. 199, according to a public notice from the agency.
Environmental documents for the project are available for public viewing at the Caltrans District 1 office, 1656 Union St., Eureka, or online at dot.ca.gov/dist1/d1projects/envdocs.htm.
The deadline to comment on the project is Nov. 19, according to Caltrans. Written comments should be submitted to Jason Meyer, Caltrans District 1, PO Box 3700, Eureka, CA 95502-3700.
Comments can also be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
For more information about the project, call Jason Meyer at 707-441-5921 or email email@example.com .
Reach Jessica Cejnar at firstname.lastname@example.org .