By GARY LINEHAN
A woman died early yesterday afternoon when her car collided with a 10-wheel dump truck west of Jamestown, forcing emergency crews to close a small section of Highway 108 for more than four hours.
The Tuolumne County Coroner's Office tentatively identified the woman as Shirley Telese, 55, of Jamestown. Identification will not be final until fingerprints are checked, said Deputy Coroner Jim Scruggs.
About 12:10 p.m., the red Mercury Topaz was heading west, going about 50 mph, when it crossed the center line and collided head-on with the eastbound truck going about the same speed, said California Highway Patrol Officer Tom Wills.
The truck's driver, Ryan Hamilton, 26, of Sonora, was not hurt and was on his feet within minutes of the crash.
"He was lucky," Wills said. "It hit hard."
After the collision on Woods Creek Bridge, the truck veered off the north side of the highway and rolled onto its right side down an embankment.
The truck, owned by Simunaci Construction of Sonora, was carrying 12 tons of sand that also went down the embankment.
No passengers were in either vehicle and no other vehicles were involved.
Why the car driver turned into the truck's path is unclear, Wills said, but several witnesses told officials that the woman steered into the truck's path.
The highway was closed for about 4 1/2 hours while crews cleaned up the scene, said Officer Brad Schultz.
Traffic, backed up for miles, was rerouted. Eastbound traffic was diverted onto Belle Mooney Road and westbound traffic was directed onto Harvard Mine Road.
With yesterday's crash, 30 people have been killed so far this year in Tuolumne County traffic accidents. In all of 2002, there were 21 fatal accidents countywide.
Staff writers Amy Lindblom and Joshua Wolfson contributed to this report. Contact Gary Linehan at firstname.lastname@example.org.