Potter Valley crash kills driver, injures Boy Scouts

A 55-year-old Newcastle man driving a van full of Boy Scouts died Sunday in a head-on crash in Mendocino County that also sent all five young passengers to Northern California hospitals with major to minor injuries, California Highway Patrol officials said.

The man's son was in the car, a 14-year-old boy who suffered major injuries and was flown to Oakland Children's Hospital, CHP Officer Marion Pohl reported. The boy and his father were not identified.

The Boy Scout members were from Troop 13 based in Newcastle, in the foothills northeast of Sacramento, and they were on their way to a week-long camping excursion at the Wente Scout Reservation near Willits, camp director Jason Lewis said.

The 11:10 a.m., five-vehicle collision on Highway 20 in Potter Valley closed the highway for at least three hours as officers investigated the crash and cleared the road.

The series of collisions started when the driver of a 2006 Ford F-250 failed to realize the car in front of him was coming to a stop behind another driver preparing to make a left-hand turn, Pohl said in a statement.

The eastbound Ford pickup, driven by Eugene Galletti, 73, of Redwood Valley, struck the stopping 2011 Toyota Sequoia driven by Joan Schmidt, 67, of Potter Valley, Pohl said.

Schmidt's Toyota then struck the rear of a trailer being pulled by the pickup preparing to turn, a 2003 Chevrolet Silverado driven by Randall Johnson, 51, of Ukiah, the CHP said. Johnson's turn signal was blinking and he was about to turn into a private driveway, Pohl said.

The impact threw the Ford pickup driven by Galletti into oncoming westbound traffic.

The Ford crashed head-on into a 2003 Honda Odyssey carrying the Boy Scouts members, Pohl said.

The Honda Odyssey spun into the adjoining slow lane of Highway 20 and was hit by a westbound 2005 Dodge Ram 2500 driven by Andrew Rivas, 22, of Lincoln, a town just west of Auburn, the CHP said.

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