Three people were hospitalized with serious injuries Saturday after a head-on collision on Highway 29 in Lake County.
• A woman lost control of her SUV on a rural highway, skidded and rolled across the center line into oncoming traffic.
• An oncoming pickup truck hit the SUV head-on.
• Both drivers and one of the passengers from the pickup truck were airlifted to a hospital with moderate to major injuries.
• Alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the accident.
The California Highway Patrol report stated that 47-year-old Annette Sykora-Finch of Hidden Valley Lake was driving her 1999 Ford Explorer southbound on Highway 29 at the time of the accident.
Sykora-Finch lost control of her vehicle south of Hofacker Lane and skidded across the double yellow line into the northbound lane of the highway, according to the CHP report.
The Explorer rolled over directly in the path of an oncoming 2000 Ford F250 pickup truck driven by 39-year-old Matthew Elliott of Lakeport. The pickup truck — which was carrying four passengers — crashed head-on into the Explorer.
Both drivers and one of the passengers, 35-year-old Shana Smith of Middletown, suffered moderate to major injuries, according to the CHP. All three were airlifted via helicopter to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, about 40 miles away. The exact nature and severity of their injuries was not stated in the news reports.
The other three passengers in the pickup truck — a 22-year-old woman and 15-year-old girl, both from Clearlake, and a 2-year-old boy from Lakeport — were transported via ground ambulance to St. Helena Hospital Clearlake to be examined as a precaution.
The CHP report said all six people involved in the accident were wearing seat belts. Alcohol did not appear to be a factor.
Why Rural Highways are Dangerous
Only 23 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas, but 57 percent of all motor vehicle accident fatalities occur on rural roads, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The NHTSA’s latest figures show that the fatality rate per vehicle miles traveled was 2.5 times higher in rural areas than in urban areas.
A large majority of car accident deaths in rural areas — 67 percent — occur on highways, where the speed limit is 55 mph or higher. In urban areas, the opposite is true: 68 percent of all fatal crashes occur on roads where the speed limit is less than 50 mph.
Rural highways often are only two lanes, which presents significant danger to motorists who use the oncoming traffic lane to pass at high speed.
Finally, hospitals are few and far between in rural areas. The risk of dying on the way to the hospital is significantly higher in a rural accident than an urban one.
Lake County Car Accident Lawyers
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