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Driver killed in Highway 101 crash in Santa Rosa

A 32-year-old Healdsburg man died Thursday after his sport-utility vehicle hit a guardrail and went airborne, slamming the truck into a tree, CHP officials said.

Ben Putnam was killed in the crash at about 12:30 a.m. on southbound Highway 101 south of Todd Road, according to the CHP and the Sonoma County Coroner’s Office.

A witness reported seeing the crash unfold.

The silver 1992 Ford Explorer drifted onto the shoulder and struck a guardrail while traveling at about 65 mph, the CHP said. The front of the Ford collided with the end of a metal guardrail, sending the vehicle airborne until the roof crashed into a large redwood tree, according to the report.

The passenger compartment was crushed, trapping Putnam, who was wearing a seatbelt. The CHP said the vehicle did not have airbags. Paramedics declared that the man had died at 12:43 a.m.

Investigators closed two lanes on the three-lane stretch of the highway for about two hours during the investigation and cleanup. Caltrans crews were repairing the guardrail.

Officer Steven Fricke said that the CHP is investigating whether alcohol contributed to the crash.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jjreport.


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