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Two women die in head-on crash near Watsonville

Modified: Friday, Jul 11th, 2014

California Highway Patrol Sgt. Adam Rodriguez examines a Hyundai sedan on Highway 1 Friday where two women died when their car struck a large utility truck just south of Watsonville. (Photos by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

MOSS LANDING — Two women died in a head-on collision early Friday on Highway 1 just south of Watsonville.

California Highway Patrol Sgt. Adam Rodriquez said the women were traveling north on Highway 1 in a white Hyundai sedan when their car, for unknown reasons, drifted off the right shoulder just before 7 a.m. The driver most likely over-corrected and the car started to slide counter-clockwise as it shot over the double-yellow divide, Rodriguez said. The passenger side of the car slammed into the grill of a large utility truck from Northwest Signs of Santa Cruz that was traveling south.

The severity of the crash, which occurred about a half mile south of Jensen Road, forced the CHP to close Highway 1 altogether between Struve Road in Moss Landing and Salinas Road until 11 a.m.

The truck ended up careening off the pavement and landed on its passenger side in an irrigation ditch against a utility pole that held up 21,000-volt lines. Two men aboard the truck were shaken up but escaped injury, Rodriguez said. Though the overhead power lines remained intact, officials from Pacific Gas & Electric were summoned to stabilize the tilting pole. They also shut off electric power in the area for several hours.

Emergency officials were initially concerned by the presence of a baby car seat that ended up in the center of the highway along with baby clothes and supplies. North Monterey County firefighters used a heat-seeking device to search surrounding dense shrubbery to check for a child that might have been ejected from the car but no other victims were located, Rodriguez said.

One of the women died inside the Hyundai while the driver was hurled from the car and ended up in the center of the southbound lane.

American Medical Response and Monterey County Sheriff’s deputies joined the CHP at the scene. Several workers from Caltrans also responded to help detour traffic and with road surface cleanup.

Southbound Highway 1 traffic readily turned into a logjam as it inched along the detour route over the Salinas Road Bridge to Werner Road, and onto Elkhorn Road. Traffic backed up to Riverside Drive.

At noon Caltrans said Highway 1 would most likely reopened by 1 p.m.

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