Woman dies after motorcycle crash at Santa Maria River bridge

A woman was killed in a motorcycle crash along northbound Highway 101 at the Santa Maria River bridge Saturday morning, where traffic into San Luis Obispo County was backed up for several miles for a couple of hours.

Authorities closed the northbound lanes nearly an hour after the 11:30 a.m. crash, opening the slow lane first.

Traffic was at a near standstill to a mile south of Donovan Road in Santa Maria, according to the CHP’s media Web site.

Nancy Simmons, 51, of Santa Maria died at Marian Medical Center.

Her husband, Ben Simmons, 52, who was driving the 2001 Harley Davidson they both rode on, suffered minor injuries, according to a report by CHP Officer Greg Escobedo.

They were traveling with other motorcyclists when a slower-moving pickup towing farm equipment was ahead of them in the slow lane, Escobedo reported.

Ben Simmons moved into the fast lane to pass it, but saw traffic ahead of him was slowing, Escobedo wrote.

Though be braked, Simmons saw he couldn’t stop in time to avoid crashing, so he laid his motorcycle down, according to the report. The motorcycle came back up abruptly, ejecting the Simmonses.