On-Ramp to Peril

On Friday, May 22, at about 5:45 p.m., the sound of crunching metal brought many neighbors out of their houses. A young man in a late-model Jeep Wrangler had swerved off Highway 94 west and -- taking a steel lightpole with him -- went down the embankment and onto Buena Vista Drive.

About 50 yards from where the Jeep stopped were the tire ruts made by the previous car that went off the road in this location.

The accident occurred just west of the Sweetwater Springs on-ramp, where it merges with the 94. The driver had collided with at least one other car while attempting to merge with westbound traffic. The front of the car was smashed, but it had not overturned. The driver -- who had no passengers -- was able to get out and seemed uninjured.

While most of the neighbors stood on the roadside pondering the incident, one woman began talking with the accident victim about what happened. Several teenagers and younger kids had spread word of the accident among their friends and arrived on foot and bike, some of them taking pictures on their phones in front of the smashed car. Firefighters and CHP officers arrived almost simultaneously, about eight minutes after the accident.

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