Sunday morning, a California Highway Patrol car struck a presumed dead body that had been flung into northbound highway traffic in San Mateo from a collision reported minutes earlier, a CHP spokesman said.
That revelation late Sunday answered the question as to why the CHP had so many lanes closed along Highway 101 for more than 15 hours Sunday. Thousands of drivers faced delay from early Sunday morning to late in the afternoon in both directions.
The details of the crash are gruesome to say the least.
The deceased and another person were apparently standing on southbound U.S. Highway 101 around Poplar Avenue at about 2:55 a.m. when a black limousine hit them, CHP spokesman Art Montiel said.
The force of the impact sent the bodies flying into the northbound lanes.
"We don't know if the impact from southbound lanes to the northbound lanes actually killed them," Montiel said. "But we presumed they were both deceased by the time other vehicles traveling northbound were hitting them."
Along with the CHP officer, multiple drivers who were unaware of the incident also struck the bodies.
"We think they were already dead after we looked at the distance from where they were originally hit to where they landed," CHP Sgt. Trent Cross said.
Cross could not provide the distance the victims flew, but he said the entire scene made up about 3,000 feet.
It started when a woman identified as Stacy White, 39, apparently parked a red Saturn facing the wrong direction in one the left southbound lanes of the highway around 3 a.m.
Officers believe White, from San Mateo, then exited the car, and Steve Pereira, 26, had stopped and exited his vehicle to see if White was alright.
The two were then struck by the black limousine traveling southbound, which sent them flying across the highway into northbound traffic. They were pronounced dead on the scene at 3:06 a.m., according to the San Mateo County coroner's office.
The officer that hit one of the victims had been responding to reports of a crash that matched the description of White's car, which had been reported at about 2:51 a.m. as driving the wrong direction on the highway, Montiel said.
A Sig-alert was issued at 3:09 a.m., and only one lane of southbound traffic and one of northbound remained open while officials investigated the scene.
Remaining lanes of the highway stayed closed until 6 p.m. Sunday night.
Officers say White may have been driving under the influence of alcohol due to the smell from inside the Saturn.
Bay City News