April 24th Highway 160 Accident Update: Both Victims Beat the Odds and Survive

C.A. Giacoma
Staff Writer
May 3, 2017

River News-Herald

Last week’s traffic collision and fire on State Route 160 between the Antioch Bridge and Three Mile Slough Bridge was a head-on crash between two tractor trailers. The accident occurred just after 10 a.m. on the cloudy but dry morning of April 24th.

Driving north in a Kenworth and pulling an empty trailer was Marci Rodriguez of Albany, Oregon. Coming southbound in a Peterbilt was William Smith of Antioch California, also pulling an empty trailer at the time. For unknown reasons, Smith crossed over the double yellow lines and directly into Rodriguez’ path. Rodriguez attempted to avoid colliding with Smith’s vehicle by pulling as far as possible to the right shoulder and was hit on the front driver’s side, shattering the cab and tearing the front and side of the trailer, strewing debris for several yards along the roadway before coming to rest partially down the east embankment.

The Kenworth tractor driven by Smith caught fire immediately on impact, engulfing the entire tractor portion of the vehicle as it careened off of the pavement and down the east bank of the roadway to the south, starting a small grass fire. Rio Vista Fire Dept., under Captain Wilson, responded and quickly extinguished the fire. Suffering major injuries and severely burned, William Smith was airlifted by CHP helicopter to U.C. Davis trauma center in Sacramento in critical condition.

Mr. Smith continues to recover. His condition, upgraded to fair at the end of last week, is now described as good, although he remains hospitalized in Sacramento.

Marci Rodriguez sustained less serious injuries and was able to exit his vehicle himself. Rodriguez was transported to an area hospital for medical evaluation and is now recovering at home.

This is a curved section of the state highway. If a southbound driver is not paying attention, it is easy to finish the curve headed into the northbound lane. The skid marks seemed to indicate that this followed by over-correction. Northbound and southbound SR160 were closed to through traffic from Highway 12 to the Antioch Bridge for the remainder of the day. Traffic was diverted to the south onto Highway 4 and to the north onto Highway 12, rerouted to Interstate 5 as the detour around the area.

Fortunately, neither driver was pulling a loaded trailer and no other vehicles were hit or became involved on this heavily traveled road, which sees over 12,000 vehicles each day and more than 200,000 semi-trucks per month.

When these tragic events occur we are reminded that the rest of us are very fortunate to have the choice to slow down and to remember that there are innocent potential victims in those other cars traveling on the same road with us.

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