In the aftermath of a Highway 101 crash that killed four people on Christmas Eve, a California Highway Patrol spokesman said numerous injury accidents have occurred at the same spot over the past four years.
Since Jan. 1, 2011, 10 vehicle collisions have occurred at the intersection of Highway 101 and Wellsona Road north of Paso Robles, according to statistics compiled by the CHP’s Templeton office.
The intersection is home to the busy San Paso Truck Stop.
Collisions within the intersection have resulted in seven injures, ranging from minor to serious, in addition to the four deaths on Wednesday.
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Four people the CHP identified as San Miguel residents were killed Wednesday evening as their car traveled south on Highway 101 and hit a semi-truck turning left from northbound 101 onto Wellsona Road.
Though the intersection itself is dangerous, its effects stretch a half-mile in either direction, said Adrian Ayala, spokesman for the CHP’s Templeton office. In that entire 1-mile length, 25 injury and noninjury collisions have occurred since Jan. 1, 2011, including the 10 directly in the intersection.
That intersection is known to local law enforcement and emergency personnel as an especially hazardous one, according to CHP.
Though visibility is considered good along that stretch, Ayala said the speed of Highway 101 traffic often is a contributing factor in accidents as vehicles either try to cross the highway from Wellsona Road or turn left from northbound Highway 101 into the San Paso Truck Stop.
The common denominator is vehicles pulling into oncoming traffic, Ayala said.
“Biggest thing we can say is to wait for (vehicles) and allow yourself plenty of time to make that maneuver,” Ayala said. “It comes down to patience. The bottom line is there have been frequent intersection collisions there. The numbers may not seem staggering, but 10 is what we consider a large number for one location.”
Ayala said the investigation into Wednesday’s collision remained ongoing Friday as authorities continued to interview possible witnesses. He said the agency is not yet prepared to release its findings of fault.
Calls for comment to the company of the commercial truck involved were not returned on Friday.
Forward Air Solutions Inc., based out of Groveport, Ohio, has a satisfactory safety record, according to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. A satisfactory rating is the highest of the agency’s three ratings, indicating no evidence of substantial non-compliance with safety requirements.
Between December 2012 and December 2014, Forward Air Solutions Inc. vehicles were involved in a total of 38 collisions, with 15 of those resulting in an injury. No fatality collisions were recorded during that period, the data shows.
The company has a good safety inspection record. Of 705 drivers evaluated between 2012 and 2014, 18 were taken out of service, well below the national industry average of 5.5 percent.
Family members of those killed in Wednesday’s crash — Crystal Lee Reuck, 22; Taylor M. Swarthout, 22; Karen Michele Szasz, 45; and David Castillo, 42 — could not be reached Friday for information on plans for memorial services.