Crash on notorious Placer County S-turn 'third in a month'

Driver misses turn on Newcastle-Lincoln roadway
By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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Winding and narrow Highway 193 is a challenge for even experienced drivers.

But for a 17-year-old only six months past earning his driver's license, a notorious stretch of roadway that runs between Newcastle and Lincoln proved too tough a challenge today.

The youth lost control of the truck and it veered into oncoming traffic before he was able to steer it back into his own lane. But an overcorrection sent it off the road, just north of Skyview Drive a mile from the Taylor Road intersection.

He was lucky in one way. The out-of-control vehicle missed the trunks of several mature oak trees on the side of the road. The truck came to rest down an embankment on its side about 20 feet off Highway 193, its driver’s side front end nudging one of the oaks.

The driver was able to walk away, with just a minor scrape to an elbow from the crash, which happened at about 10:45 a.m. Traffic was down to one lane at the scene afterward, as a tow truck was dispatched to hoist the truck out of the brush and take it away.

"It's the third in a month," said nearby resident Jay Ratra, as he surveyed the scene from the other side of the road. "Last week, a drunk driver missed the turn and luckily for him, he got stuck in the ditch. He ended up getting arrested."

Ratra said Caltrans has acted on his request to remove what amounted to a six-foot-high hedge on the northbound side that was blocking driver views as they rounded one turn along the serpentine road. But drivers continue to approach the section of road too fast, he said.

"It's so visible and signs are there saying to slow to 30 mph," Ratra said. "Drivers should just slow down and pay attention."

The teen driver, who the Journal is not identifying because he is a juvenile, said he was driving at a speed of about 45 mph before the series of turning manoeuvres left him and his truck down the embankment. He was the lone occupant of the vehicle.

"I've had my license for six months," he said.