Baby dies in Lakeville Highway crash that injures Folsom mom and six others

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An 8-month-old girl died Thursday night after a three-car collision on Lakeville Highway that also injured the girl’s mother, of Folsom, and six others, some of whom were pulled from the wreckage by witnesses and one of the injured motorists.

The crash, reported to the California Highway Patrol at 8:12 p.m., closed the two-lane roadway near Old Lakeville Road No. 2 until past midnight. It was the fifth crash recorded so far this month by authorities on the busy highway, which connects highways 101 and 37 and has become notorious for its frequent and deadly auto accidents.

The name of the baby who died in the wreck was not released Friday. Her mother, Caitlin Marshall, 31, was driving a white Ford Explorer south on Lakeville Highway when it was struck by a silver Volkswagen Jetta traveling north, said CHP Officer Jon Sloat.

The driver of the Jetta, Ryan Deloye, 18, of Granite Bay appeared to have crossed the double-yellow lines, Sloat said.

Marshall’s vehicle was propelled off the west side of the roadway into a tree, the CHP said. The collision with the tree impacted the passenger side of the SUV, Sloat said. Four others in the vehicle, including a 32-year-old woman and three other children, ages 5, 3 and 1, were injured and hospitalized after the crash.

After the collision, Deloye’s car went into an uncontrolled spin. It crashed into the right side of a southbound blue Ford Fusion driven by Matthew Swoyer, 25, of Fairfield, the CHP said.

Swoyer, the lone occupant in his vehicle, was one of several people who rushed to the crumpled Explorer moments after the crash.

“I knew I was OK and I knew I needed to help,” Swoyer said.

He said he scanned the area to make sure the crash site was safe, and later directed another bystander to call 911, relying on training he picked up as a cadet with the Fairfield Police Department, as well as enrollment with the California Cadet Academy, a summer program for teens interested in public safety careers.

He and another man, 21-year-old Steve Costello from Oakley, California pried open the driver’s door after seeing the two women in the front seat. The women were conscious but disoriented.

A third man, Lincoln resident Kevin Toon, 50, said he also rushed to the scene shortly after the crash, and helped cut the children free from their seat belts.

The smallest child, who Toon believes may have been the 8-month old, was in bad shape. The infant was passed to a woman who also responded to the crash, and who appeared to have medical training.

“She was the one that had the baby and she was doing chest compressions,” Toon said. “My only thought was to get all of those kids out that car and away from the vehicle.”

The baby, originally identified as being 7 months old, was taken to Petaluma Valley Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, CHP Sgt. Josh Kolstad said. The three other children, along with Marshall and the other, unidentified woman in the Explorer, were taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

Two of the children and the two women remained in critical condition Friday afternoon, Sloat said. One child was released from the hospital.

Deloye, the Jetta driver, was treated for minor injuries at Memorial Hospital, according to Sloat. An ambulance took Swoyer to Kaiser Permanente in Terra Linda, the CHP reported.

Sloat said officers’ preliminary investigation indicated Deloye had looked away from the road and at his car radio in the moments before the initial collision. Witnesses, including Swoyer and Toon, said Friday they heard Deloye say in the aftermath of the crash that he had looked at his cellphone before the collision.

Sloat could not confirm that particular detail on Friday.

“His car was completely in the other lane, so something was distracting him,” Sloat said.

Alcohol or drugs are not suspected in the collision, he said. An investigation is ongoing.

The CHP asked anyone who may have witnessed Thursday’s crash to contact the agency.

It was latest fatal crash on a roadway where accidents have steadily increased over the past five years, from 31 in 2013 to 56 last year, according to CHP statistics.

The roadway is now a chosen route for commuters and others seeking a shortcut from the East Bay and Vallejo to Sonoma County.

In April, a head-on collision on the highway claimed the life of a well-known marine biologist on her way to work in Bodega Bay. The 19-year-old driver who authorities say drove into oncoming traffic, causing the chain- reaction crash, was unlicensed, according to the CHP.

“It handles a lot of commuter and commercial traffic, which it wasn’t designed to do,” Lakeville Fire Chief Nick Silva said of the road. “It’s being coined as Blood Alley and a few other adjectives.”

The collisions this month started with a three-vehicle crash involving two semi-trucks — one carrying pears, the other hot asphalt. It shut down Lakeville Highway on Aug. 1 for several hours, though no one was seriously injured.

On Wednesday, a northbound Toyota Tacoma veered into the southbound lane, sideswiping an empty tanker truck before hitting a Lexus sedan, according to CHP. Salvador Becerra Vallejo, 31, the driver of the truck, was sent to the hospital with major injuries. The driver of the Lexus had minor injuries.

Another collision took place two hours later that same day when a vehicle drove into a ditch, resulting in minor injuries to that driver, according to Silva, the Lakeville chief.

Earlier this week, the Petaluma City Council approved an $185,400 contract to add safety improvements to a stretch of the highway, including new signs, including some equipped with radar to monitor speed. A dedicated right turn lane from Lakeville Highway onto Pine View Way, the primary entrance to Kaiser Permanente Petaluma and several office buildings, was part of the deal.

During a 10-year span beginning in 2012, 23 accidents occurred within a 250-foot radius of the Pine View Way intersection. About 65 percent of those were broadside-related, city officials said.

You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5214 or On Twitter @nashellytweets. You can reach Staff Writer Hannah Beausang at 707-521-5214 or On Twitter @hannahbeausang.

Editor's note: A previous version of the story incorrectly identified the make and model of Matthew Swoyer's car. He was driving a Ford Fusion.

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