A Vacaville firefighter inspects a car that rolled over on Eastbound Interstate 80, killing a Vacaville woman Thursday. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

Solano County

Vacaville woman dies in I-80 crash

By From page A1 | May 31, 2013

VACAVILLE — A Vacaville woman was killed in a Thursday morning crash after hitting a state Department of Transportation truck on Interstate 80 in Lagoon Valley, leading to extensive traffic backups for hours.

The accident took place at 11:45 a.m. on eastbound I-80 near the Lagoon Valley Road overpass. It backed up traffic for miles into Fairfield and beyond, as far as through Vallejo during the afternoon rush hour. Only one or two lanes were open at the accident site at various times until 5:15 p.m., when all lanes opened again.

Even Highway 12 and various local streets such as Texas Street in Fairfield were packed with traffic in the late afternoon, as people took detours to avoid the I-80 traffic.

Witnesses to the accident described a Scion weaving erratically. They saw the car swerve and hit the right rear of a Caltrans weed abatement truck parked in the center divider. The truck had its amber lights on, California Highway Patrol Officer Chris Parker said.

The Scion overturned and ended up in the second lane from the center divider, Parker said. The woman driving the Scion was in her 70s and died at the scene, he said.

Vallejo resident Bonny Lowe was driving behind the Scion when the accident occurred. She saw the Scion in the center divider space, heading straight toward the Caltrans truck.

The Scion swerved but hit the Caltrans truck, then skidded in front of Lowe on its side. Lowe saw the undercarriage. She slammed on her brakes and hit the Scion, Lowe said.

“I was just sliding and praying,” she said.

She came to a stop with her car still upright, then turned her attention to the vehicles coming up behind the accident at freeway speeds.

“I was so scared,” she said. “I was so afraid cars weren’t going to stop, they’re just going to hit me.”

People stopped, got out of their vehicles and tried to help the woman in the Scion, Lowe said. It was too late.

About a half-hour later, Lowe stood under a pine tree for shade along the side of the freeway waiting for a ride home. She had been heading to her friend’s house in Vacaville. Her own car would be towed away, she said.

Lowe’s green Volkswagen Jetta stood in the second-from-left lane of the freeway, in front of the Scion. While the Jetta looked in decent shape from the side of the freeway, the Scion sat on its top, wheels in the air, crushed almost beyond recognition. A headlight sat alongside the freeway several hundred feet from the accident site, apparently from the Scion, an orange circle painted around it.

Parker said the Scion had only the driver inside, as did the Jetta. The Caltrans worker was outside of his truck when the accident happened. The CHP closed several lanes well into Thursday afternoon as officers continued their accident investigation.

Lori Lorenz got caught in the traffic as she tried to drive from Walnut Creek to her downtown Fairfield business around 4 p.m. Traffic backed up from I-80 onto Interstate 680 to a point near the mothball fleet in Suisun Bay near Benicia. It took her an 90 minutes to make what is usually a 30-minute trip, she said.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

Discussion | 32 comments

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  • Bob HamiltonMay 31, 2013 - 7:14 am

    Does anyone else recall that a few years ago January another accident occured around this same location where an eastbound car careened up the slope, went airborne and crashed head-on into westbound vehicle? The lower guard rail was not in then and may have saved a repeat this time. Does anyone else think closing a freeway for hours and hours after an accident is a bit extreme and accicent investigations should be handled much quicker?

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  • CD BrooksMay 31, 2013 - 8:07 am

    Mr. hamilton, it is a lengthy scientific investigation and must be performed in a proper manner to determine cause and liability. In many cases, those experts have to interpret their findings in court. RIP ma’am, condolences to family and friends.

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  • R. I. P. Ma'amMay 31, 2013 - 8:11 am

    Really? After the accident they have to wait for emergency crews. Then they have to save who they can save. If someone dies. They have to wait for the coroner. They cant do anything until the coroner arrives. If there are any witnesses at the scene, they have to get each persons report. Then they have to measure skid marks and look at other things to evaluate everyone's speed and how the accident happened. Then, after their investigation, they have to wait for tow trucks and clean up crews. So no. It can't be any quicker. Accidents happen and unfortunately more than just the involved get delayed that day. Thank God you weren't involved and get over the delay.

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  • BradMay 31, 2013 - 9:37 am

    What a ridiculous and totally absurd comment. I bet, Heaven forbid, if one of your loved ones was involved in something like this you would want a thorough investigation with every measure taken.

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  • BERTHA SPENCERMay 31, 2013 - 7:31 am

    My prayers go out to Mrs.Vivian's family from her co-workers @ C&H SUGAR We will miss you dearly.

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  • Carlos barriosMay 31, 2013 - 9:45 am

    Truly a sad day at C&H sugar ! I am honored to have had the pleasure to know Vivian and work with her side by side for the last 6 years . She was one of the kindest , most hard working people I have ever met and she will be missed dearly . Today was the hardest commute to work I have ever had to make , my thought go out to her family ! My deepest condolences ....... Carlos b ( powder mill )

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  • rbcMay 31, 2013 - 11:21 am

    I drove by ther at 11:30am and seen the. caltrans truck he was right on the white line regardless of his flashing lites he shouldnt have been parked that close to freeway traffic. We slowed down so people could avoid side swiping him. Condolences to all the family and friends of the lady.

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  • Me tooMay 31, 2013 - 11:23 am

    I drove by not too long after the accident happened. But they didn't have any "road work ahead" signs and he was parked on the line! I agree!

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  • Laurie BradleyJune 23, 2013 - 7:46 pm

    I am Vivian's daughter. Will you please contact me on facebook. Thank you.

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  • DRJune 23, 2013 - 10:37 pm

    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ You Should be Ashamed of yourselves.... Using your own mothers tragic death for your own Per$onal Gain You people disgust me......

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  • cdJune 24, 2013 - 11:56 am

    I agree with you dr its a terrible shame to use death for monetary gain. No Christians here.

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  • Christine in FFMay 31, 2013 - 11:24 am

    I see a liability suit coming Caltran's way. I didn't see any cones or blockage to warn drivers of his presence, I read he had flashers on, that's it. He was parked in the center divide which is next to the fast lane and looks like he was partially in the fast lane.It would surprise me if he wasn't because that is a very large truck that barely fits on the shoulder. My friend said she passed by there just prior to the accident and saw 2 vehicles, one a CHP, swerve to get by as they came upon the very large tanker truck. That truck shouldn't have been there without the fast lane being coned off well before where he was parked. Unacceptable. Even if she was swerving through lanes like witnesses stated, or whether she suffered a medical emergency, I believe caltrans should've taken more common sense precautions for their presence. Condolences to her family!

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  • DRMay 31, 2013 - 6:12 pm

    The Caltrans truck was properly placed and had everything correct for the work being performed. Although tragic, the cause of the accident was the erratic driving and speeding, (as all the witnesses stated) Attempting to place blame on a stationary vehicle with warning flashing amber CAUTION lights, especially when California Law REQUIRES you to slow down and mover over to the other lane when approaching highway workers vehicles with amber lights flashing (for this exact reason) is absurd at best and you should be ashamed of yourselves. How pathetic. My sincere condolences to the family.

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  • Christine in FFMay 31, 2013 - 6:55 pm

    Nope~ not buying it! Negligence on the part of Caltrans.

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  • DRMay 31, 2013 - 9:30 pm

    Really? Wow, the entitlement mentality is shining through. Frivilous Lawsuits abound. Lets suppose the vehicle Mrs. Vivian hit was a stalled Honda with 3 children in the back with their flashers on? Or how bout a bridge column? Or the butt end of a K-Rail? Or a Motorcyclist? Who's "fault" would it be then? How bout if traffic was stopped due to congedtion? I See, simply because its "Deep Pockets" Caltrans that got hit, out doing their jobs, that makes the erratic driving, the speeding and the weaving in and out of traffic, and the failure to slow for the obvious upcoming road work null and void. Even if there was a medical issue, liability for anyone crashing in to a stationary object, off the highway, not moving, with bright flashing lights is not the stationary objects, it's the moving vehicles.

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  • FairfielderMay 31, 2013 - 12:01 pm

    Condolences to Vivian's family. Dear DR staff, Why did you not report anything about this traffic nightmare on your website yesterday? It took me nearly 3 hours to get home from Concord yesterday afternoon and there was nothing on your website about what was going on. I learned about the delay from The Reporter and the KGO radio traffic report. Very disappointing.

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  • KelleygMay 31, 2013 - 2:39 pm

    I believe there was a "breaking news" banner at the top of the homepage. I looked at it after I heard about it on the radio...must have been around 3:30 or so. I was very disappointed that there was no mention at all on CBS 13, at 5:00, 6:00 or 10:00 news. Took me 50 minutes to get from FF to VV using the back roads. I guess the Kings still take top stories. Too bad.

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  • DRMay 31, 2013 - 6:14 pm

    The Caltrans truck was properly placed and had everything correct for the work being performed. Although tragic, the cause of the accident was the erratic driving and speeding, (as all the witnesses stated) Attempting to place blame on a stationary vehicle with warning flashing amber CAUTION lights, especially when California Law REQUIRES you to slow down and mover over to the other lane when approaching highway workers vehicles with amber lights flashing (for this exact reason) is absurd at best and you should be ashamed of yourselves. How pathetic. My sincere condolences to the family.

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  • Caltrans does have responsibility in this accident.May 31, 2013 - 8:06 pm

    If traffic isn't be slowed by law enforcement for median work then Caltrans is at fault...This Caltrans vehicle wasn't on the shoulder..From all accounts the lane closest to the median should have been completely shutdown for this wide body Caltrans truck to be there. There will be litigation and Caltrans will be found to be partially at fault. That's why this accident took so long to clear...The taxpayers will have to pay for another Caltrans bungled job...And of course, nobody ever loses their job for their incompetence!

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  • Former FF residentMay 31, 2013 - 10:03 pm

    More accurately... Caltrans will pay out to save money they would spend to defend themselves from yet another lawsuit. Perhaps the truck was on the white line AFTER getting hit in the right rear at freeway speeds.

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  • DRJune 01, 2013 - 1:48 pm

    Former FF Resident, I agree. It's unfortunate that we as a society have gotten to the point where responsibility for one's own actions is set aside and simply filing a lawsuit will get deep pocket entities to just settle on the pilfer instead of fighting it. The Caltrans vehicle being on the line, weather or not it was pushed there or not doesn't exclude responsibility for erratic driving, speeding (estimated 85 to 90 MPH) weaving in and out of traffic, total disregard for the public's safety, her own safety or the safety of the highway worker who had to move fast to avoid being killed. Again, the white line was actually a yellow line and this driver crossed it to hit the Caltrans truck. Lights flashing, parked

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  • TweetsMay 31, 2013 - 8:08 pm

    Did anyone think just maybe there was a problem with the car, stuck gas pedal,medical problem etc. I hope that is being investigated . Can't believe someone her age would intentionally drive unsafe. RIP Mrs Vivian

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  • DRMay 31, 2013 - 9:13 pm

    All the mechanics will be checked I'm sure, the Coroner will determine any medical issues, but again, numerous witnesses gave their statements and all included weaving in and out of traffic erratically.

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  • cdJune 01, 2013 - 9:32 am

    Hmmm... weaving in and out of traffic erraticly, speeding? And its CalTrans fault?Flashing lights which means slow down, it is nobodys fault but her own,im sorry but put blame where blame is due, CalTrans was doing their job, what if the CalTrans person died because of her driving behavior? I support CalTrans and the Highway Patrol, they put their lives on the line everyday so we can have safer roads,thank you to all of you who do a fantastic job,thankfully no one else was hurt by this accident,and the other person who was hit too. Thank You CalTrans you Rock!!!

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  • DRJune 01, 2013 - 1:35 pm

    CD, well said !! It's pretty bad when people use the demise of another to exploit the system for $$. A woman died tragically due to her own activity and the vermin will use her death to scape-goat blame on to an innocent entity for personal gain. Carry on.....nothing more to see here

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  • CD BrooksJune 01, 2013 - 1:58 pm

    This is another "cd" and not me.

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  • Don StevensJune 01, 2013 - 10:51 am

    Vivian will be missed by all of us at C&H. She was a great person and an extremely hard working person. Our world is at a loss and Heaven has gained a great spirit!

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  • CD BrooksJune 01, 2013 - 2:24 pm

    Unless the deceased was under the influence, had a medical issue or vehicle failure, the DOT may be found partially liable for this accident. Why? Because they were “out there.” When I was in the business of such things we had three day training exercises along with lectures and testing to get certified. Flag-persons die every day due to many different factors primarily inattention and/or distracted driving. We were told that there is precedence established where companies have been found guilty for accidents even though they did everything right in terms of signage and proper lane closures. And here is the real kicker, individual law suits have been successfully litigated against each individual (John Doe) involved in setting up the road work activity where accidents occurred! I AM NOT TAKING A SIDE HERE, I am just saying no one has any evidence either way and emotions always play a role until we get the final story.

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  • cdJune 01, 2013 - 2:54 pm

    You are right CD its unfortunate that people are do sue crazy that's where our tax tax dollars go.

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  • cheryl gilfillanJune 02, 2013 - 10:44 pm

    my aunt Vivian was a great person she was not drunk or driving erratic she was in the fast lane doing 65, everyone out there passes but when she did it, Now its erratic She was a great lady our family will miss deeply.

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  • cdJune 03, 2013 - 9:02 am

    I'm sorry for your loss and people tend to blame others when it concerns a loved one, but many eye witnesses including the person right behind her said she was driving erratically. Thank God the person who crashed into her didn't get killed or the Cal Trans worker who jumped out of the way, didn't get killed either.

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