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.