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Man injured in Highway 129 collision, road shut for hours

Modified: Tuesday, Sep 3rd, 2013

Fire enveloped both trailers of this big rig following a two vehicle crash on Highway 129 east of Rogge Lane in Aromas early Tuesday afternoon. (Photos by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

AROMAS — A man was severely injured Tuesday after his vehicle collided with a big rig on Highway 129 approximately 1:10 p.m.

The collision occurred between Rogge Lane and Highway 101, prompting California Highway Patrol officers to close the busy stretch of road until 4 p.m.

According to CHP officer Hugh Kellogg, a white Mitsubishi RS was traveling west on Highway 129 when it struck the truck, which was going east hauling two trailers.

It was unclear what caused the collision, and the incident is still under investigation.

The collision sent the truck through a metal guardrail and down a 20-foot embankment, where it burst into flames and set the hillside of heavy brush and trees on fire.

The inferno sent a column of black smoke into the air as it burned for approximately an hour.

Gabriel Becerril, who lives on the ranch where the truck crashed, said the truck narrowly missed a horse corral.

The crash spooked a Lipizzan horse named Quinn.

“Quinn was so spooked he ran into a fence and broke a tooth, but he’ll be OK,” Becerrill said. An earlier model Dodge pickup near the crash site was also set ablaze.

The Mitsubishi was destroyed, and the front end of the vehicle was torn off.

The driver of the Mitsubishi, a 21-year-old male, suffered a broken ankle and lacerations to his head. He was flown by air ambulance to an out-of-area trauma center.

The truck driver, a 37-year-old male, suffered an abrasion to his arm.

Kellogg said the road is a major thoroughfare for trucks going to and from Watsonville.

“There are accidents on this road quite often,” he said. “People need to realize this is a 55 miles per hour zone for good reason.”

The fire became so intense that both trailers of the big rig were burned beyond recognition and the cab was reduced to a wilted heap of melted metal and fiberglass.

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