Labor Day weekend relatively safe for local motorists

The holiday weekend was largely an uneventful one for police and
for drivers on local roads.
By Lori Stuenkel

Gilroy – The holiday weekend was largely an uneventful one for police and for drivers on local roads.

Drunken driving arrests were down across Santa Clara County and there were no fatal crashes in the Gilroy area, according to police.

Gilroy police arrested nine people suspected of driving under the influence, including two who crashed their vehicles. One man was booked on felony DUI and hit-and-run charges for causing an injury accident, although details were not available Tuesday. The other knocked over a traffic light signal and cut power to the entire intersection and First Street and Wren Avenue.

California Highway Patrol officers arrested 16 suspected drunken drivers in the Hollister/Gilroy area during the four-day weekend, according to Officer Chris Armstrong. They issued a total of 300 traffic citations.

Only one injury crash was reported near Gilroy: A rollover crash that caused minor injuries to the 16-year-old driver, the CHP said.

The teenager was driving a 1992 Toyota westbound on Pacheco Pass Highway west of Casa de Fruta Monday morning when he drifted into the center divider and lost control, according to the collision report. The vehicle skidded across the westbound lanes and hit a dirt embankment on the side of the highway. The impact caused the vehicle to roll over, hit the embankment again and land on its roof.

The driver, from Antelope, was transported by ambulance to Saint Louise Regional Hospital with a laceration to the left knee and a complaint of pain to the back of the head. His 17-year-old passenger, of Elverta, was uninjured.

The Toyota was partially blocking the right lane of the highway, which was closed for about 20 minutes. Traffic was not affected, the CHP said.

One fatality occurred in Hollister about 1:30am Sunday morning. Jason Michael Minke, 23, of Fresno was killed when he lost control of his motorcycle while traveling about 100 miles per hour on Fairview Road near Fallon Road.

The only Santa Clara County fatality occurred Sunday morning, when a DUI suspect ran into a motorcyclist on Interstate 880 in San Jose.

County-wide, DUI arrests were decreased by 21 percent compared to Labor Day weekend last year. Police made 116 DUI arrests between 6pm Friday and midnight Monday, based on information provided by the Avoid the 13 campaign, a collaboration between local law enforcement agencies to reduce drunken driving.

“We’re happy to see the drop in DUI arrests and injuries,” Mountain View Police Chief Scott Vermeer, Avoid the 13 campaign chair, said in a statement. “It means that people are getting smart about designating drivers. We also believe that high gas prices and worry about the tragedy in New Orleans put a damper on travel plans.”

The next Avoid the 13 campaign will run during the winter holiday season, from Dec. 16 until New Year’s Day.