On March 5, 2017 at approximately 7:20 P.M., 30 year old Elizabeth Anne Palmer of Orleans was driving her Toyota Yaris southbound on HWY 96, north of Orleans (MM 41). 41 year old Jose Paredes Chavez of Orleans was seated in the front passenger seat; a 4 year old and 18 month old were seated in the rear passenger area. For reasons still under investigation, Ms. Palmer lost control of her vehicle, drifted in a westerly direction off the roadway, continuing down an embankment (approximately 500’) into the Klamath River. It was dark and there was a mixture of snow and rain falling in the area.
Mr. Chavez was able to escape, climb back up to the roadway, and contact a CalTrans employee. Emergency services were requested at this time.
Emergency personnel from the Orleans Volunteer Fire Department, Willow Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Happy Camp Ambulance, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, Trinity County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol (Willow Creek) and Hoopa Ambulance responded to the scene to provide emergency services.
Due to the extreme weather and roadway conditions, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, Trinity County Search and Rescue, CHP helicopter, and Coast Guard were unable to locate the vehicle and its remaining occupants. The disposition of Ms. Palmer and the children cannot be confirmed at this time.
Mr. Chavez was transported to Mad River Community Hospital with minor to moderate injuries. A joint effort is currently underway in an attempt to locate the missing parties. CHP Willow Creek is handling the collision investigation. Humboldt County Search and Rescue is handling the recovery efforts.
On March 4, 2017, at approximately 2017 hours, a 1994 Peterbilt tank truck driven by Leroy Thomas was traveling southbound on Redwood Drive, just north of Redway Drive. A pedestrian was walking northbound on Redwood Drive, within the northbound lane for vehicle travel. It was dark, rainy and the roadway was wet. For reasons still under investigation, the pedestrian continued walking in the roadway and the front of the Peterbilt collided with him. The pedestrian was thrown approximately 60 feet and came to rest on the west shoulder of Redwood Drive. The pedestrian sustained major injuries as a result of the collision. Redway Volunteer Fire Department, City Ambulance of Eureka and Humboldt County Sheriffs Deputies assisted CHP with medical aid and traffic control. The pedestrian was immediately transported to Jerold Phelps Community Hospital in Garberville by City Ambulance. He was later taken to Redwood Memorial Hospital in Fortuna. The driver of the Peterbilt was uninjured and evaluated for DUI, which did not appear to be a factor. The pedestrian succumbed to his injuries on March 5, 2017, at 0750 hours. Humboldt County Coroner case number 201701057.
The pedestrian's name is being withheld, pending next of kin notification by the Humboldt County Coroner. This incident remains under investigation by the Garberville CHP office.
On March 5, 2017, at approximately 1915 hours, a 2003 Toyota Camry was traveling northbound on US-101, just north of Ryan Creek Road, at a slow rate of speed. For reasons still under investigation, the driver suddenly veered towards the west and off of US-101, traveling down a steep embankment west of the roadway. The Toyota collided with a culvert pipe on the west embankment, launching the vehicle into the air. The driver appears to not have been wearing a seatbelt, and became ejected from the Toyota during the impact. The Toyota overturned on top of the driver, and then continued down the embankment. The driver was immediately given life saving medical efforts by several citizens who witnessed the collision, but to no avail. The driver was pronounced deceased at the scene at 1938 hours, by Willits Ambulance EMS personnel.
Caltrans assisted with traffic control during the vehicle recovery, along with the Little Lake Fire Department, and Mendocino County Sheriff Deputies. Alcohol does not appear to be a factor at this time. The driver's name is being withheld, pending next of kin notification by the Mendocino County Coroner. This incident remains under investigation by the Garberville CHP office.
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