Grass Valley woman ID'd as fatality in North Auburn crash

Auburn woman injured, hospitalized in collision on Highway 49
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - Authorities have released the name of the woman killed Thursday afternoon in a multi-car crash on Highway 49 in North Auburn. The Placer County Coroner's Office identified the woman Friday as Janie Elaine Szymanski, 60, of Grass Valley. Five vehicles were involved in the crash, which took place at about 4 p.m. Thursday on a stretch of Highway 49 north of Joeger Road. The initial California Highway Patrol report said witnesses saw Szymanski's 2003 Ford Mustang convertible travel into oncoming traffic, strike one vehicle and then swerve out of control. The Mustang collided with a second car then struck two more vehicles before coming to rest on its side. Szymanski was thrown from the car and died at the scene. She was the lone occupant of her vehicle. California Highway Patrol reported that the driver of a car that collided with the Szymanski vehicle was taken to Sutter Roseville Medical Center with major injuries. The injured driver was identified as Kathleen Keith, 61, of Auburn. Keith's injuries were not considered life threatening, the report said. Keith was listed in critical condition Friday afternoon at Sutter Roseville Medical Center. The Highway Patrol said Keith was wearing safety restraints and Szymanski was not. The Szymanski car was southbound when it started to drift into northbound lanes on the highway, the CHP report said. The first emergency call came in at 3:53 p.m. One eyewitness told the Journal shortly after Thursday’s crash that her vehicle was struck by Szymanski’s car as it flew through the air and flipped over. Both the Szymanski and Keith vehicles were “demolished,” Grass Valley resident Tammy Saling said. Another driver – John Wood of Nevada City – said he saw the Mustang fishtailing toward his vehicle and managed to avoid a collision by making an evasive turn. Blood tests for alcohol and drugs – standard in fatal motor-vehicle crashes – will be conducted, with results several weeks out, said Placer County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Dena Erwin said. Journal Features Editor Krissi Khokhobashvili contributed to this report.