Priest Grade wreck injures four

May 19, 2003 11:00 pm

By AMY LINDBLOM

An early morning single-car crash on New Priest Grade sent four people to Sonora and Modesto hospitals.

The names of the four people were not released pending notification of their families. Two of the injured were taken by ambulance to Sonora hospitals, and two were lifted by air ambulance to Modesto hospitals with what were described as traumatic injuries.

Groveland Fire Chief Steve Williamson said fire and paramedic crews reached the scene, about a half mile from the top of the winding road, within minutes of the 6 a.m. crash.

The driver of an older Ford Explorer pulling a flat-bed trailer loaded with household "junk," was driving west, or down New Priest Grade, when his brakes went out, said California Highway Patrol Officer Tom Wills.

Williamson said the SUV slammed into the upper shoulder of the road and did not roll down the embankment. The winding road runs along the edge of a steep canyon, and commonly, when accidents happen there, cars go off the side.

"We were able to get the injured people out quickly, but it took a bit longer to get the traumatically injured down to the helicopter in Moccasin," Williamson said.

Three hours after the accident, the wrecked SUV and trailer were still on the road because CHP collision investigators wanted to inspect them before having them towed. The highway remained open, and traffic was diverted around the accident.

Wills said the injured people were three adults and a boy, but he was unable to give further descriptions.