|Photo By John Whiteside|
Thursday, July 10, a major traffic pile up occurred at approximately 7:50 A.M. near the Alma Cal Fire Station. The site was located at Lexington Reservoir on northbound Highway 17, the main commute route from the Santa Cruz coast to the San Jose area. Multiple ambulances and fire rigs were dispatched by Santa Clara County Fire to rescue, treat, and transport victims of the 10-vehicle accident.
A two-trailer big rig hauling dirt came downhill and plowed into slowing traffic. The big rig ran over several vehicles and then, with one trailer still attached, broke through a steel and wooden post barricade. The big rig eventually stopped on the Old Santa Cruz Highway, a frontage road adjacent to Highway 17. The rear trailer detached and continued down Highway 17 for about 50 feet before jackknifing into the center, concrete divider.
Seven patients were transported to local hospitals. Sadly, there was one fatality.
At 10:57 A.M., Fire Associates members were paged to respond to the scene to support Fire, California Highway Patrol, and CALTRANS personnel doing recovery, vehicle removal, clean-up, and the CHP Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team (MAIT). After several phone calls to obtain details of the service request and availability of FA responders, John Whiteside departed San Jose Station 6 at 11:40 A.M. in FSU-2. The accident created massive traffic jams, even with coned-off two-way traffic in the normal southbound lanes. En route, John encountered FASCV member Dan Wong in his POV and together they finally reached the scene at 12:45 P.M.
County Fire had forty meals delivered just ahead of the FSU’s arrival. Tables and benches were set up. Cold bottled drinks and lemonade were provided along with CLIF bars. John and Dan remained on scene until all the vehicles had been removed and the highway cleaned of debris. FSU-2 was released at 5:00 P.M., just ahead of the highway being reopened. John arrived back at Station 6 at 5:40 P.M. after refueling the support unit.
- John Whiteside's photos can be viewed at: Hwy 17 Accident