UPDATE 3:00 p.m. — The California Highway Patrol has released more information about the multiple car collision that closed Highway 101 for almost an hour this morning just north of the Willits bypass, and restricted traffic for a number of hours on Monday afternoon.
The collision involved four different drivers, the first of whom initially stopped due to a “traffic hazard” in the road ahead, and the rest proceeded like a series of dominoes.
Here are the players according to the CHP: Richard Bailey, 51 of Fortuna, heading south in a Nissan sedan; John Bullwinkel, 58 of Arcata, heading south in a Peterbilt; Justin Coggins, 29 of Fort Bragg, and also southbound in a brand new Peterbilt logging truck; and Robert McAdams, 33 of the fair city of Willits, our lone northbound traveler, driving a late ’90s Chrysler van.
Bailey in the Nissan stopped in the middle of the roadway, due to what the CHP calls a “traffic hazard,” ahead. Bullwinkel in the Peterbilt semi-truck was traveling close behind the Nissan, and he swerved left to avoid a crash, winding up partially in the wrong lane. Now that forced McAdams, traveling north in the oldish Chrysler van to swerve around the Peterbilt (which was partially in his lane) — but here comes Coggins in his brand new log-truck, driving south “at an unsafe speed for the traffic conditions.” Coggins couldn’t stop the log-truck in time and so also swerved left, and like billiard balls he struck the front of Bullwinkel’s Peterbilt, which then moved forward and hit McAdams (and his two passengers) in the Chrysler van. Though McAdams attempted to swerve around the incoming log-truck, he couldn’t; they hit each other and then the much larger and heavier (and brand new) Peterbilt log-truck kept going, right over the side of the freeway and off the embankment into the undergrowth.
One passenger in the Chrysler had to be transported to the hospital for what were described as abrasions and a possible broken wrist.
Here’s the description provided by the CHP, with the full incident press release in pdf form below.
On November 4, 2019, at approximately 0815 hours, Richard Bailey was driving a 2014 Nissan sedan southbound on US-101, in the southbound lane, in the vicinity of mile post marker 50.18 (approximately two and a half miles north Willits). Mr. Bailey stopped the Nissan in the southbound lane due to a traffic hazard ahead. John Bullwinkel was driving a 2008 Peterbilt truck-tractor combination southbound on US-101, directly behind the Nissan. Mr. Bullwinkel slowed the 2008 Peterbilt, turned to the left, partially entered the northbound lane, and came to a stop. Robert McAdams Jr. was driving a 1999 Chrysler van, transporting two passengers, northbound on US-101, in the northbound lane, south of the Nissan and 2008 Peterbilt. The Chrysler began driving around the 2008 Peterbilt. Justin Coggins was driving a 2019 Peterbilt log truck southbound US-101, in the southbound lane, approaching the other parties, while rounding a curve. Due to Mr. Coggins driving the 2019 Peterbilt at an unsafe speed for the traffic conditions, he was unable to stop the Peterbilt and turned to the left, to avoid a collision with the rear of the 2008 Peterbilt’s trailer. Mr. Coggins entered the northbound lane and collided with the left front of the 2008 Peterbilt’s trailer. This collision caused the 2008 Peterbilt to collide with the Nissan. Mr. McAdam’s observed the 2019 Peterbilt approaching and turned the Chyrsler to the right in an attempt to avoid a collision, but the 2019 Peterbilt’s left side collided with the left side of the Chrysler. After the collision, the 2019 Peterbilt traversed a steep embankment east of US-101 and came to a rest within the dense overgrowth east of US-101.CHP Garberville press release from 11/4/19.
A passenger in the Chrysler was transported to a local hospital for treatment of injuries. Caltrans established intermittent traffic closures for both lanes of US-101 while the offloading and recovery is completed. The estimated time for full clean-up is 1500 hours.
Neither alcohol nor drugs are not suspected as a factor in this collision. This collision is under investigation by the CHP Garberville Area.
UPDATE 9:35 p.m. — CalTrans has established one way traffic control, meaning they let one group of cars pass through south, and then then a group north, and then a group south, and so on until the highway is cleared.
The CHP has confirmed there were only minor injuries and that one of the vehicles was a logging truck.
WILLITS, 11/04/19 — U.S. Route 101 is closed in both directions just north of the northern Willits interchange, and south of Oil Well Hill, due to a collision that occurred around 8:15 a.m. this morning, and involved a number of vehicles. Tow trucks are on the way and emergency responders are currently on the scene but the road is temporarily closed to allow access to the collision.
The collision appears to have involved least one semi truck, which may have been a loaded logging truck that went off the road, and at least one passenger van, but may have involved an additional semi-truck and passenger vehicles. As of 9 a.m. CalTrans is not providing any estimate as to when the road will be re-opened.
No significant injuries have been reported so far. This is a developing situation, and this article will be updated when more information becomes available.