Two separate vehicle crashes claimed the lives three people over the course of two days.

In the first, a 16-year-old male died on Feb. 2 in a head-on crash on Maher Road in Royal Oaks. 

California Highway Patrol officer Jessica Madueño said the victim was a passenger in a white 2000 Honda Accord driven by a 17-year-old male, both of Hollister.

 According to Madueño, the Accord was traveling southbound on Maher Road south of Tamara Lane at a high speed around 4:35pm. 

The driver of the Honda Accord failed to negotiate a slight curve in the roadway and crossed over the solid double yellow lines.

That’s when the Honda swerved into the northbound lane of Maher Road into the path of a black 2008 Honda Fit, driven by a 29-year-old Watsonville man, who was traveling northbound on Maher Road at approximately 30 mph. The driver of the Honda Fit was unable to avoid the crash and both vehicles collided head-on. 

The Honda then overturned and both unrestrained parties were ejected from the car. The Honda Fit came to rest east of Maher Road. 

The passenger in the Honda was pronounced dead at the scene. Both drivers were taken to Natividad Medical Center by ambulance with major injuries.

Later that night a 19-year-old male from Salinas died in a solo-vehicle crash near Monterey. Medueño said that around 9:41pm the CHP received several 9-1-1 calls about a traffic collision on Highway 1, south of Soledad Drive. CHP officers found a 2003 Honda Accord with major damage. Officers determined the Honda, driven by the Salinas juvenile, was traveling northbound on Highway 1 and, for reasons still under investigation, the vehicle veered off the roadway, overturned and smashed into a guardrail. The driver suffered major injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Drugs or alcohol are not suspected to be a factor in the incident.

Then, on Feb. 4, a 79-year-old Pacific Grove man died in a two-vehicle crash on River Road south of Las Palmas Road near Salinas.

Medueño said the man was the driver of a gray 2013 Ford F-350, driven with his 73-year-old female passenger, both of Pacific Grove, who were traveling northbound on River Road south of Las Palmas Road at an unknown speed. Melissa Larsen, 68, of Salinas was driving a black 2024 Audi Q8, traveling southbound at approximately 40 mph around 2:40pm. 

Larson failed to maintain her position in the southbound lane and crossed over the solid double yellow lines, Medueño said. She crossed over into the northbound lane and drove directly into the path of the Ford F-350. 

The Ford driver turned to the right, but he was unable to avoid the crash. The front of Audi Q8 struck the left front of the Ford, causing the Ford to overturn down a dirt embankment. The driver of the Ford F-350 was pronounced dead at the scene. The passenger was taken to Natividad Medical Center by ambulance. Larson suffered minor injuries and declined medical treatment.

Alcohol and or drugs are not a factor in this crash.

Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to call the CHP Monterey Area office at 770.8000 or email [email protected].

Previous articleMeet the Green Party candidate challenging Panetta
Next articleForecast calls for clearing skies on weekend, rain late next week
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here