Two dead after 395 collision

At least 14 lives lost in 2018 on lethal strip of Highway 395

Two dead after  395 collisionCalifornia Highway Patrol Officer Dan Lilly responds to the scene of a double fatality Wednesday on Highway 395. — Photo by Laura Austin

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By BRIAN COSNER, News Review Staff Writer

Sgt. Matt Hunt of the California Highway Patrol confirmed two fatalities from a Wednesday afternoon collision on Highway 395 just south of Red Mountain. The identities of the deceased were unavailable at press time.

The incident is still under investigation, but according to Hunt, the driver of a silver passenger vehicle headed north initiated an unsafe turn, forcing a southbound 2002 Volkswagon Beetle into the shoulder. The driver of the Beetle lost control, spinning into the road into the path of a northbound 2005 GMC box van, killing both occupants of the Beetle and hospitalizing both occupants of the van.

“The vehicles continued into the opposite shoulder and into the desert,” said Hunt, in what he called a “noncontact hit and run.” The injured parties were transported to Ridgecrest Regional Hospital for treatment.

Hunt said that CHP is asking for the public’s assistance in the investigation and asks anyone who may have seen the accident to call the CHP Bishop Dispatch Center at 760-872-5915.

This latest accident marks the 14th fatality since Jan. 1 on the corridor between here and Interstate 15. Locals have started petitions and sign/bumper sticker drives to raise awareness of what many first responders refer to as “Blood Alley.”

Representatives from the California Department of Transportation have responded to the local outcry, but there is still no major road construction planned to address the issue.

In an email from Caltrans, Public Information Officer Tyeisha Prunty said that Caltrans is adding “rumble strips” to the shoulders and center lines to “alert motorists when they are close to or crossing the center line and/or shoulder lines,” but that Caltrans is “not considering widening to add lane capacity to U.S. 395 at this time.”

“Government officials and the Department of Transportation cannot continue to slap Band-aids on this road,” says the Save Lives on 395 online petition.

“Rumble strips do not work. We must stand together to demand more lanes, a road divider and an altogether safer highway!”

The petition can be found at ipetitions.com/petition/saveliveson395, and there is also a Facebook group in support of the cause.

Story First Published: 2018-05-11