A driver in a stolen pickup caused a chain-reaction crash when he drove into oncoming vehicles on Lakeville Highway, causing a seven-car collision that snarled traffic for hours, CHP officials said.
Donald Hector, Jr., 42, of Oakdale sustained major injuries in the 11:50 a.m. crash. He fled the scene in another car but was apprehended later, CHP Officer David Thomas said.
After Hector is released from Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, officers will arrest him on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs and vehicle theft, Thomas said.
The crash began moments before noon on Lakeville Highway just south of the Old Lakeville Road No. 3 about a quarter mile north of Highway 37.
Hector was in a white 1998 Dodge pickup with passenger Dustin Odaniel, 18, of Oakdale when he apparently tried to pass slower traffic, Thomas said. The area is marked with double yellow lines, indicating it's illegal to pass.
"It happened so fast. I saw a white truck swerving into our lane, next thing you know ... I ended up getting ripped, knocked off the road," said Byron Byers, 34, of Laytonville who was heading south to see family in Hollister.
Four vehicles ahead of Byers had swerved to miss the Dodge but were side-swiped and ended up in a ditch off the side of the road.
The Dodge ended up sideways in the path of a Toyota Camry driven by Anthony Call, 52, of Healdsburg, the CHP said. The Toyota crashed into the Dodge, sustaining major front-end damage and injuring Call.
The Dodge then was broadsided by Byers' Pontiac Firebird, and the car careened off the road, its front end crumpling as it crashed into a barbed-wire fence, said Byers, who suffered bruises and cuts.
A Mercedes-Benz then crashed into the Pontiac, and the driver, off-duty San Francisco firefighter Jack Chow, 43, of American Canyon got out to see if anyone was injured.
A CHP helicopter crew flew Call to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital out of precaution, although doctors later determined the injuries were minor, Thomas said.