Fatal accident on Highway 70

Feather Publishing
Courtesy of  Robin Epley
Staff Writer
Chico Enterprise-Record


Three Oroville residents were killed in an accident Saturday afternoon, June 4, near the county line between Butte and Plumas.

The driver, approximately 35 years old, was headed westbound on Highway 70 with two juvenile passengers in the car, according to a press release from the Chico office of the California Highway Patrol.

Officers believe the man was trying to pass a motor home when he overcorrected and the car, a 2001 Pontiac Firebird, went off the edge of the roadway and into the nearby Feather River.

The occupants of the motor home stopped and tried to administer help.

A male juvenile passenger, approximately 9 years old, was seen clinging to the rocks before letting go and attempting to swim to the driver, who was farther downstream, according to the report.

The release states that both were rescued by agents of Butte County Search and Rescue and given CPR at the scene. The child was later pronounced dead at Feather River Hospital, while the driver was pronounced dead at Oroville Medical Center. The body of a second male passenger, 16, was found nearly 24 hours after the crash.

CHP officer Robert Muzzy said the investigation into why the vehicle went off the road is under way.

“The weather was rainy and the road was very slick,” he said. “From what we’ve gathered, the vehicle was making a pass ... lost traction, and began to slide.”

Witnesses saw all three victims exit the vehicle after it plunged into the river, and all three attempted to make it to the shore on their own power.

The names of the victims are not being released until family members are notified. Muzzy said the victims were related, but not in the same immediate family.

Sgt. Steve Collins of Butte County Search and Rescue said the accident occurred extremely close to the Butte County-Plumas County line, so agencies from both counties responded.

On Saturday, personnel from CalFire, Butte County Sheriff’s Office, Butte County Search and Rescue, CHP, Paradise Fire Department, Plumas Search and Rescue and Plumas Sheriff’s Office attended the scene. Plumas medics and first responder medics were also present, as was a CHP helicopter.

“That type of accident, in that type of area, requires a lot of effort,” Collins explained. “This was so close to the county line that we didn’t know whose jurisdiction it was at first.”

PG&E aided the rescue efforts by limiting the amount of water inflow into the Feather River from Cresta Forebay so search and rescue personnel could perform swift water rescue maneuvers.

While the bodies of the young child and the driver were recovered Saturday, the third victim was not found until nearly 3 p.m. Sunday.

Swift Water Rescue technicians and three divers from the Dive and Rescue Team began the search for the last victim at 8 a.m. Sunday. A diver from the Dive and Rescue Team eventually located the body.

“Obviously our thoughts and prayers go out to the families affected by this,” Collins said.


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