Friday, April 18, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Two from Petaluma killed in I-80 crash

Firefighters from Davis, UC Davis and Dixon fire departments respond Thursday to an accident involving a tractor-trailer rig  on I-80 near Old Davis Road. Sue Cockrell/The Davis Enterprise

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From page A1 | March 29, 2013 | 1 Comment

Two elderly Petaluma residents were killed in a fiery crash on Thursday when a semi tractor-trailer tore through an Interstate 80 guard rail near the UC Davis campus, smashing head-on into the sedan in which they were traveling.

The Solano County Coroner’s Office on Friday identified the driver of the BMW as 76-year-old Phang Phetsomphou and his passenger as 74-year-old Bouaket Phetsomphou. The relationship between them was not immediately certain, an investigator said. An autopsy is pending.

Authorities say it was a truck driver who choked on some food that triggered the crash. The BMW was traveling westbound near the Old Davis Road exit when the rig crashed into it, causing both vehicles to burst into flames, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The 10:30 a.m. collision affected traffic patterns in the area for much of the day, closing the westbound lanes of I-80 for nearly seven hours and diverting motorists onto Highway 113 on the west side of Davis and northbound Interstate 5 in Sacramento, as well as Highway 12 in Solano County.

I-80′s eastbound lanes, where the incident began, also were closed for about two hours.

CHP Officer Christopher Parker said the truck driver, whose name also had not been released as of this morning, was eating while driving and choked on a piece of the food, which caused him to briefly lose consciousness and drift to the right shoulder of the road.

He then veered back to the left, crashing into both a Toyota Corolla and a BMW station wagon whose drivers suffered minor to moderate injuries.

At that point the big rig crashed through the freeway’s center divider, taking out a 50-foot-long portion of guardrail before moving into the westbound lanes and colliding head-on with the BMW sedan.

Parker said the truck driver, who also sustained moderate injuries including burns, was transported to an area hospital for treatment, as were the two drivers injured in the eastbound lanes.

Whether the truck driver faces any criminal charges as a result of the incident will be determined following the investigation, Parker said.

A portion of westbound I-80 was shut down Thursday night while Caltrans road crews repaired a section of roadway damaged by the fire, according to the CHP’s online traffic information page.

— Enterprise staff writer Cory Golden contributed to this report. Reach Lauren Keene at lkeene@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene

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  • Rich RifkinMarch 29, 2013 - 11:18 am

    I was downtown yesterday morning, shortly before 10:30 am, when I saw two fire engines and the fire rescue truck racing south on E Street toward Richards Blvd. I assumed there must have been a crash on I-80. Some 5-10 minutes later, I noticed a plume of black smoke rising over UCD (from my vantage point on 3rd Street, east of E. Because no fire trucks or other emergency vehicles raced to that smoke, I assumed that it must not have come from a fire. It never occurred to me until much later that the smoke I saw over the campus was actually coming from I-80, near Old Davis Road. In fact, I had no idea this tragic crash had occurred until around 4 pm, when I got stuck in traffic on I-80, between Richards Blvd and the UCD exit, and I saw the ruined remains of the truck and the cars. Perhaps the lesson that needs to come from this accident is that a driver needs to stick to driving, not eating or talking on the phone, etc. If the truck driver was hungry, he should have exited the freeway, parked his rig, and ate his meal. He should not have been eating a meal and driving at the same time.

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