COARSEGOLD – A multiple-vehicle crash in front of the Broken Bit just north of Coarsegold on Highway 41, tied up traffic for over an hour this evening.
Just after 6 p.m., reports came in of several cars involved in an accident, with one of the vehicles on fire.
CHP responded to the scene, and a full wildland fire dispatch was called up. When the first engine arrived, the crew dealt with what was reported as a fire in the engine compartment of one of the vehicles, but there was no threat to the surrounding vegetation, and fire resources were called off.
The way the chain-reaction crash unfolded is a bit vague in the details, with so many involved and each with their own description, but it started when a woman northbound in a Toyota Camry decided to stop and check out an off-road vehicle for sale. It was parked on the west side of the road in front of the Broken Bit.
According to CHP, she was stopped in the northbound lane, waiting for traffic to clear southbound, so she could turn left. A Ford Explorer slowed to stop behind her, but the Volvo following the Ford didn’t. The Volvo crashed into the Ford, but somehow the driver of the Ford managed not to smash into the Toyota ahead of him.
There was a Hyundai Elantra behind the Volvo, and at some point, it appears that the driver of the Toyota waiting to turn decided to get out of the way, and the Hyundai in the back of the line somehow managed to hit the Toyota, says CHP.
The investigating officer at scene will have a challenge sorting the whole thing out, but even with everyone making evasive maneuvers and scattering across the highway, no one was injured, and no southbound cars were caught up in the crash.
The Volvo had several small children, including a baby on board, but after being checked out by Sierra Ambulance personnel, everyone was deemed to be okay, and no one was transported for medical treatment.
One-way traffic control was put in place for over an hour as tow trucks arrived to collect all the vehicles, arrangements were made for those needing a ride to be picked up, firefighters cleared debris out of the roadway, and officers conducted interviews and completed their investigation. (Yes, some more of the duties performed by our firefighters – directing traffic and cleaning up the detritus and engine fluids that create hazards after an accident).
The roadway was reopened at around 7:15 p.m., and the traffic backup cleared within about 10 minutes.