Saturday Apr 12 2008
Officials identify two involved in fatal I-80 accident
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
California Highway Patrol officials released the names of two people involved in a fatal accident that occured just east of Newcastle on Interstate 80 Friday afternoon. The accident backed up traffic for several hours. Milca Aguilera, a 23-year-old Sylmar resident, was said to be one of the occupants of the 1995 GMC flatbed tow truck that was hit by a three-axle Volvo semi tractor/trailer combination driven by Lakhwinder Singh Sidhu. Aguilera was not in the tow truck at the time of the accident. Instead she was standing outside the vehicle, which was parked on the right shoulder of eastbound Interstate 80, according to Kelly Baraga, California Highway Patrol spokeswoman. She was transported to Sutter Roseville Medical Center with minor injuries. The victim's name remains to be released. The 42-year-old Bakersfield man, who was pronounced dead on the scene, was said to be standing outside the tow truck but officials are not sure where, according to Baraga. We really don't know where he was standing, Baraga said Saturday. Baraga said officials speculate there were unknown mechanical difficulties with the tow truck, and the victim had the cab lifted to look at the engine. She said it appeared he was a private tow truck operator. The truck's door had a Chico address. Sidhu, a 34-year-old Brampton, Ontario-Canada resident, was not injured. Baraga said he had just picked up a load from Vacaville. He was cooperative with officials at the scene and took a voluntary blood test, Baraga said. It didn't appear that alcohol was involved but we'll definitely look into that and cover all our bases, Baraga said. No charges have been made as the case is under investigation, she added. The accident took place at about 2:50 p.m. The tow truck was reported to be disabled and parked on the right shoulder of I-80. For unknown reasons, Sidhu drifted to the right side of the road and struck the truck, according to Baraga. The tow truck was pushed several feet up onto a dirt berm, A CHP press release stated. Partial lane closures backed up traffic to Sierra College for several hours until the accident was finally cleared around 7 p.m., Baraga said. The victim's name will not be released until next of kin is notified. Caroline Presson of Ask Me Towing in Colfax said the victim was not an employee nor did she know him, but she and her coworkers expressed their condolences for the loss of a fellow tow truck driver. We were very sad to hear about this incident, Presson said Saturday. Jay Love, a Newcastle resident who witnessed the accident, said the tow truck was parked at the side of the freeway. Love said the flatbed, which appeared to be a tow truck, was partly over the side white line into the traffic lane and the big rig driver was unable to adjust direction in time to stop the crash. The tractor-trailer, which had GNR Logistics Brampton, Ontario printed on the side doors, carried the flatbed about 50 feet before coming to a stop. A 40-foot stretch of steep hillside on the side of the road had its top layer of grass and weeds stripped off as the flatbed truck was carried along, scraping the earth, by the bigger truck. About 20 feet of steel guardrail was also taken out as the truck slowed and stopped. CHP officials are asking any witnesses to call the Auburn area office at (916) 663-3344 or after hours at (916) 861-1300. The Journal's Gus Thomson contributed to this report. The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment auburnjournal.com.