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Truck driver fatally injured in Sonoma Coast crash was from West Sacramento, family says

A truck driver traveling a remote section of Highway 1 on the Sonoma Coast died early Saturday after crossing the oncoming lane and hitting a tree on the side of the road in Salt Point State Park, authorities said.

The crash was discovered by a passing motorist shortly before ?6 a.m. near South Gerstle Trail and the park’s Woodside Campground, emergency personnel said.

The impact crushed the cab and tore apart the 40-foot-box truck, entangling the unidentified driver in wreckage. He never regained consciousness, Assistant Timber Cove Fire Chief Dennis Meredith said.

Meredith said it appeared the truck had been northbound when it veered across the two-lane highway on a curve and hit the tree off the southbound shoulder.

In the collision, the truck partially wrapped itself around the trunk.

“It looked like he hit it at pretty good speed,” Meredith said.

Timber Cove firefighters cut the man from the wreckage but were unable to save his life, he said.

Family members identified the victim as Joshua David Lopez, 43, of West Sacramento.

Greg LaLonde said his brother-in-law delivered auto parts to auto stores overnight for UPS and had started work at midnight in Sacramento the night before his death.

He was headed to Gualala. LaLonde said his wife’s brother celebrated his birthday on Thursday.

The CHP said it could not publicly confirm the man’s identity or the origin of the truck, which was marked as a UPS Freight truck. The truck was empty but for a few boxes inside, Meredith said.

Up to 15 gallons of diesel fuel spilled at the site, but were contained, the CHP said.

Meredith noted that most roadway accidents in the area are solo-vehicle crashes because of so little traffic, making fatalities relatively rare.

“This one, he just hit that tree hard,” he said.

You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 707-521-5249 or mary.callahan@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @MaryCallahanB.

Mary Callahan

Environment and Climate Change, The Press Democrat

I am in awe of the breathtaking nature here in Sonoma County and am so grateful to live in this spectacular region we call home. I am amazed, too, by the expertise in our community and by the commitment to protecting the land, its waterways, its wildlife and its residents. My goal is to improve understanding of the issues, to find hope and to help all of us navigate the future of our environment. 

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