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Wrong-way driver causes mass injuries on Calif. highway

Nine people went to the hospital after a driver going the wrong way crashed into a minivan

By Rowena Coetsee
East Bay Times

BRENTWOOD, Calif. — Nine people went to the hospital Saturday night when a driver headed onto Highway 4 in the wrong direction.

The California Highway Patrol received a call at 8:07 p.m. that someone driving a sedan eastbound into oncoming traffic had crashed into a minivan west of the Sand Creek Road on-ramp.

“It was a pretty bad crash,” said CHP Officer Custodio Lopez, noting that some of the victims were seriously injured.

He also said that the sedan was stolen.

Ross Macumber, interim battalion chief with the East Contra Costa Fire District, was driving east on Highway 4 headed back to his station in Brentwood when he saw a cloud of dust appear in the distance.

As he approached he saw a minivan with major front-end damage in the middle of the west-bound lanes; a gold sedan had toppled down the embankment and was resting on its roof.

One of the car’s two occupants already had extricated himself from the car but another was still trapped inside, Macumber said.

He had to break a window to get into the minivan, where eight people -- two of them young children -- had sustained injuries ranging from scrapes to what appeared to be a broken leg, Macumber said.

The youngest child was airlifted to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland while most of the other victims were taken to local hospitals, he said.

One of the men in the sedan was taken by ambulance to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. Firefighters had to use the Jaws of Life to pry the other one from the car, after which he was airlifted to Eden Medical Center’s trauma center in Castro Valley, Macumber said.

The crash forced the closure of the highway in both directions until 9:46 p.m., when they were reopened.

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