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Driver pulled to safety after crash at notorious spot on Auburn Folsom

Nearby Newcastle residents familiar with collision location, sound
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Neighbors recognized the sound at once. A sickening bang punctured the stillness of a foggy Thursday morning in a rural Newcastle neighborhood, signaling what nearby residents said was the third time in recent years that a vehicle had crashed into the thick concrete pillars supporting the historic, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. flume on Auburn Folsom Road, about three miles south of Auburn city limits. The driver and lone occupant hit one pillar at the side of the northbound lane head-on on the driver's side. The Option Green Builders of Loomis truck struck the pillar with such force that it knocked off a cross that had been stuck about six feet up on the support after the last accident, a fatality in April. This time, the driver was more fortunate. Flume Lane resident Susie Brown rushed to the scene in her bathrobe after hearing the sound of the Toyota Tundra crew cab hitting the pillar. "I know the sound," Brown said, as she watched emergency personnel take the driver away by ambulance to Sutter Roseville Medical Center. He was identified Thursday afternoon by the California Highway Patrol as Randy Rosalex, 43, with an address on his license out of San Diego. A business card at the scene indicated he works for Option Green Builders. Rosalex's legs were pinned inside the cab but he was observed to be conscious and able to move his arms. Firefighters used jaws of life extrication equipment to remove him from the crushed cab. He was bleeding from his head but moving his arms, Brown said. The crash was the third into flume pillars at the site in recent years, Brown said. California Highway Patrol Officer T.D. Simms said at the scene that with no eyewitnesses to the crash other than the driver, it had still to be determined which direction he was heading. A skid mark was observed in the southbound lane, on the other side of the double-solid centerline. but whether it was from the truck had yet to be determined. The driver was conscious when removed from the cab of the truck, Brown added. The accident took place at about 9:20 a.m. Simms said the road may have been moist but not wet and the sky was overcast but not foggy. Traffic was narrowed to a single lane while the wreckage was cleaned up. Traffic both ways resumed an hour after the crash. Roger Hay, another neighbor, attempted to attach the cross back up on a pillar that was scraped and gouged by the crash. But the back of the crucifix wouldn't stick to the hook-and-loop fastener attached to the pillar. The pillar measures about 24 inches wide and 30 inches deep. Hay said more accidents could occur at the pillar. He said his solution would be to decrease the risks by installing large, sand-filled barrels similar to the ones seen on highways. The Journal's Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com, or post a comment at auburnjournal.com.