Surviving a 60-foot fall

Surviving a 60-foot fall

Gilroy
– Traffic on Highway 101 was snarled for hours and a Salinas man
injured Thursday morning after his truck slammed through a guard
rail, overturned, sailed airborne and landed upside-down in a creek
60 feet below the highway.
The driver, 21-year-old Guillermo Contreras Gonzalez, of
Salinas, was trapped in the cab of the truck for two hours before
rescue crews could extricate him. He broke both legs and one arm,
according to the California Highway Patrol.
By Lori Stuenkel

Gilroy – Traffic on Highway 101 was snarled for hours and a Salinas man injured Thursday morning after his truck slammed through a guard rail, overturned, sailed airborne and landed upside-down in a creek 60 feet below the highway.

The driver, 21-year-old Guillermo Contreras Gonzalez, of Salinas, was trapped in the cab of the truck for two hours before rescue crews could extricate him. He broke both legs and one arm, according to the California Highway Patrol.

One lane of the highway was closed two miles south of Gilroy for about four hours while crews cleaned a diesel leak and replaced 50 feet of broken guard rail. The 6:50am single-vehicle crash backed up commuters for miles, almost to San Juan Bautista.

Contreras was driving a 2001 Ford F-450 utility bed truck northbound on 101, south of Gilroy, in the right-hand lane, according to the CHP. In that area, called Sergeant’s overcrossing, the highway crosses a bridge over Carnadero Creek, which currently holds about one foot of water.

While traveling about 65 miles per hour, Contreras for reasons unknown, swerved to the right and struck the guard rail just before the start of the bridge. He swerved back to the left, then overcorrected and swerved right again, according to the CHP’s accident report. Contreras’ truck crashed through the guard rail, sailed through the air and landed on its roof in the creek, 60 feet below the bridge. The fuel tank and an axle with two wheels broke off and came to rest in the left-hand lane.

Gilroy and California Department of Forestry firefighters responded to the scene and attempted to extricate Contreras, who was trapped on the passenger side of the cab with his legs between the seat and the dashboard. He was freed about 9:15am, 2 hours and 25 minutes later, and taken by CALSTAR to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center where he was treated for his broken bones.

The left lane of the highway remained closed until 8:20am. The right lane was then closed for guard rail repair, until 10:44am, according to CHP records.

American Medical Response emergency medical technicians also responded, while the California Department of Transportation directed traffic and Doc’s Towing cleaned up a small diesel fuel leak that occurred on the highway. No fuel spilled in the creek.

“The guys are doing an outstanding job as usual,” CHP Sgt. Dave Hill said at the scene Thursday morning. “It’s nice working with good agencies where everybody works together.”

The guard rail was repaired and traffic cleared just before noon. The last of the debris in the creek was being hauled away about 2pm.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.

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