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Calistoga Road collision snarls traffic, injures 1

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A dump truck and trailer heading down the Calistoga Road grade early Monday kicked off a series of collisions and injured one person when the trailer swung into the path of a woman’s oncoming sedan, the CHP said.

The 7:22 a.m. accident closed the major rural commute route all day after knocking down a power pole and lines. The power failure temporarily blacked out power to about 1,500 customers, including nearby Maria Carrillo High School.

Five vehicles were involved, and one man was trapped inside his pickup when live power lines fell onto his truck cab.

Calistoga Road remained closed into the evening in both directions at Montecito Boulevard and Petrified Forest Road, creating substantial traffic problems on the commuter route between Lake and Napa counties, and Santa Rosa.

The 700-foot-long crash scene began east of Harville Road and spread up the grade. Santa Rosa fire Battalion Chief Mark Basque described a trail of vehicles, metal debris, spilled gravel, a downed pole across the road and hanging power lines.

CHP Officer Jon Sloat said the incident began when the trailer on the descending rig slid across double yellow lines and hit a sedan going up the hill. The sedan was forced backward, then hit an embankment and flipped, colliding with a pickup traveling behind it. The injured sedan driver was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital by Sonoma Life Support paramedics.

After hitting the sedan, the trailer’s axle broke, detaching the trailer and flipping it, spilling at least part of a load of gravel. The axle and tow bar then slammed into the power pole, sheering off the pole and bringing down the lines, Sloat said.

Two other vehicles were struck and damaged by the falling lines. The driver of the pickup trapped by the live lines stayed put until PG&E workers cut the power and firefighters were able to remove them.

Live wires can be fatal if touched, and PG&E spokesman Denny Boyles said the pickup driver was smart to stay in the vehicle, where the tires provided grounding.

The dump truck driver was James McElroy, 56, of Sonoma. The injured woman’s name wasn’t available Monday afternoon. No other drivers were injured.

The CHP was examining the commercial truck as part of the investigation, Sloat said.

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

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