Even as Los Gatos police began reopening onramps to southbound state Highway 17, crews were still cleaning up after an unusually messy fatal collision eight hours earlier between a septic tanker truck and two vehicles that had been heading south into the Santa Cruz Mountains.
The California Highway Patrol told NBC Bay Area the accident was reported at around 8:10 a.m. when the driver of a septic pumping truck crashed against two other vehicles; a pick-up truck and a Mercedes Benz.
The driver of the pick-up truck died, the CHP said.
As of 4:30 p.m. nearly eight hours after the initial crash, one of the two southbound lanes reopened but authorities say delays are expected to continue.
The key commuter and tourist route to Santa Cruz and other coastal communities was completely closed following the crash.
Hazmat crews were at the scene as the septic pumping truck began leaking an unknown substance.
According to CHP, the septic truck's breaks gave out while driving on a black road and crashed against a concrete barrier.
The drivers of the Mercedes and the septic truck were transferred to a local hospital with minor injuries.
The agency tweeted the accident took place on southbound Highway 17 and prompted closures between Highway 9 and Bear Creek Rd.
Both lanes of the highway were closed for about an hour until northbound lanes reopened at around 9:26 a.m.
Authorities advise the public to avoid the area and allow emergency vehicles to pass.
Bay City News contributed to this report.