Crime

Driver in fatal wrong-way crash was legally drunk, CHP says

The driver at fault in a wrong-way collision on Highway 101 that killed two people last month had a blood-alcohol level that was twice the legal limit to drive, the California Highway Patrol said Thursday.

William Dixon Jr., 57, of Hastings, Neb., was traveling north in the southbound lane of the highway over the Santa Maria River Bridge in a Chevrolet Silverado on the afternoon of Feb. 20 when he crashed head-on into a Ford Fiesta.

Dixon was pronounced dead at the scene, and the driver of the Fiesta — William Cole, 71, of Nipomo — was flown to a nearby hospital, where he later was pronounced dead, according to the CHP.

A passenger in the Fiesta, Paulette Cole, 70, also of Nipomo, was also taken to the hospital with major injuries but survived. Her condition was not immediately known Thursday.

According to CHP Sgt. Greg Klingenberg, Dixon’s blood-alcohol level was 0.16 percent. The legal limit to drive in California is 0.08 percent.

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