Nevada Big Rig Driver Struck and Killed on Icy California Highway

McCloud, California

A Sparks, Nevada man was struck and killed by a big rig late Monday afternoon. The fatal crash was reported at around 5:45 p.m. on Highway 89 in rural Siskiyou County.

California Highway Patrol officers arrived at the scene to find a chain reaction crash involving three big rigs and four passenger vehicles. According to the Redding Record Searchlight, a 2009 International tractor trailer driven by 37-year-old Ioan Paunescu of Vancouver, Washington became disabled while climbing an icy hill on the southbound side of Highway 89.

Paunescu’s co-driver, a 47-year-old Sparks man whose name is being withheld pending family notification, got out of the truck to get snow chains. At the same time, the driver of a 2013 Freightliner tractor trailer heading northbound lost control of the rig and crossed over to southbound traffic. It was then that the rig struck the Sparks man before continuing off the road, coming to rest partially down an embankment. Emergency responders pronounced the victim dead at the scene.

As other motorists approached the disabled big rigs, chaos ensued. A third big rig driven by 60-year-old Jerald John Elbert of Gardnerville, Nevada was struck by a 2014 Subaru Impreza. After Elbert stopped, two other passenger vehicles struck his big rig.

Not long after, a 2006 Toyota Sienna collided with Elbert’s rig. Another minivan, which swerved to avoid the Sienna, ended up careening down an embankment. No word was issued on injuries to the motorists involved in the multiple vehicle accident.

California Highway Patrol officer, Jeff Borgen, said drugs or alcohol do not appear to be a factor in Monday’s crash. Borgen said icy conditions on Highway 89 contributed to the crash, adding that drivers need to exercise caution when driving through snow and ice.

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