I-80 snowstorm pileup fatality ID’d as Lake of the Pines resident

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Douglas Allen Swasey, a Lake of the Pines resident and longtime Nevada County business owner, has been identified as the man who died Friday in a grinding 30-vehicle pileup in the snow on Interstate 80. Swasey, 68, was involved in one of several collisions in an incident that damaged from 26 to 30 vehicles, California Highway Patrol Officer Todd Kettwig said Wednesday. The chain-reaction crashes started at 1:30 p.m. in an area of I-80 just east of Emigrant Gap as Caltrans was trying to establish chain controls, he said. One of the semi-trailers jackknifed and another overturned while trying to avoid crashing, he said. Swasey apparently stepped outside his vehicle after it was struck by a tractor-trailer and was hit himself. Initial indications are that Swasey had stepped out of his vehicle to inspect the damage, Kettwig said. In all, 30 people were transported to nearby medical centers with injuries, Kettwig said. Swasey was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. Swasey was an Air Force veteran, who had initially moved to Grass Valley around 1960. After serving in the Air Force from 1961 to 1965, he returned to Grass Valley, where he established a long-time hair-styling business. He and his wife of 44 years, Kay, had lived in Lake of the Pines in recent years. A funeral will be held Friday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 615 Hollow Way, Nevada City. A military honors service will follow at New Elm Ridge Cemetery. Swasey’s death was the second on I-80 in the Sierra in two days involving motorists leaving their vehicles after collisions, the CHP reported. On March 17, 54-year-old William A. Gonzales of Sacramento was hit by a truck as it spun out of control. Gonzales had stopped to aid a driver who had gone off the road. But he was struck as he crossed the freeway by a truck that had spun out of control. Gonzales was described by CHP Gold Run Area Commander John Arrabit as a Good Samaritan.