Eureka man arrested on suspicion of DUI in head-on Hwy. 101 crash near Hopland

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Authorities suspect an unlicensed Eureka man was intoxicated by drugs and alcohol when he drove a silver Chevy SUV over double yellow lines on Highway 101 Wednesday in Mendocino County, causing the car to collide into a vehicle headed the opposite direction and seriously injuring himself and two others, authorities said.

Both directions off the North Coast thoroughfare were shut for hours as investigation and cleanup of the wreck proceeded.

The collision happened after 11 a.m. as Carroll Johnson, 65, was driving his SUV north over the green bridge, which spans the Russian River about 2 miles south of Hopland. Amber Younger, 30, a resident of the Humboldt County town of McKinleyville, was a passenger in Johnson’s vehicle, a CHP news release said.

His Chevy crossed into the opposite lane of traffic, hitting a blue Ford Mustang driven by Eureka resident Kip Ford, 24, the CHP said. Jennifer Ramirez, 19, of Fortuna in Humboldt County, was also in the vehicle.

“The driver of the Ford attempted to avoid a collision but the front right of the Chevy collided with the front right of the Ford,” the news release said. “Occupants of the Chevy required extrication.”

First responders pulled Johnson and Younger from the SUV, found dangling over the bridge’s railing and catching fire as crews worked to get them out of the vehicle. Johnson was transported by helicopter with major injuries to the Queen of the Valley Hospital, initially reported by authorities as Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

Younger, who was also seriously injured, was airlifted to the Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

Ford, the driver of the Mustang, had minor injuries and was sent to the Adventist Health Ukiah Valley hospital, formerly the Ukiah Valley Medical Center. Ramirez went to the Santa Rosa Memorial hospital to be treated for major wounds, authorities said.

Johnson was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of both drugs and alcohol and driving with a suspended or revoked license, CHP Officer Olegario Marin said.

Highway 101 was closed to drivers in both directions for more than two hours as Caltrans crews, CHP and about a dozen firefighters from various agencies responded to the collision.

Editor’s Note: The McKinleyville woman injured in a Mendocino County vehicle collision on Highway 101 Wednesday is named Amber Younger. A previous version of this story misspelled her last name.

You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or nashelly.chavez@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @nashellytweets.

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