A chain reaction of four crashes on Highway 101 near Windsor on Wednesday involved at least eight vehicles and required four tow trucks and three ambulances, emergency officials reported.

It started about noon when a northbound driver dropped a can of soda, bent down to grab it and came up to find he couldn't stop in time, said CHP Sgt. Allan Capurro.

That was the first of the four crashes just north of Arata Lane.

The distracted driver hit a car in front of him and a third vehicle became involved.

That was followed by another rear-ender crash, which was followed by a two-car crash involving one car rolling over into the center divider.

The last crash involved one driver losing control and hitting a fence.

At least one driver was trapped briefly. Two people were taken to area hospitals but no major injuries were reported.

The wreckage blocked the northbound lanes and the CHP closed the highway for about 30 minutes, directing traffic off at Arata Lane.

Capurro said traffic had backed up in the area prior to the crashes because Caltrans crews had been conducting shoulder work and had eliminated one lane. Crews had posted signs for two miles about the changed highway conditions, and a series of cones also forewarned drivers, he said.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com.