Highway collision kills two

June 26, 2003 12:00 am

BY JOSHUA WOLFSON

A collision on Highway 4 northeast of Murphys left two people dead and another two injured yesterday afternoon.

James Rohrer, 70, of Hathaway Pines, and John W. Spencer, 89, of Gilroy both died in the accident, which occurred at 3:45 p.m. Rohrer was traveling eastbound on Highway 4, west of Strawberry Hill Road.

The California Highway Patrol does not yet know why Rohrer allowed his 1982 Mercedes station wagon to drift into the opposite lane and into the direct path of a Jeep sport utility vehicle traveling in the other direction, according to a report.

At the time, both vehicles were traveling about 50 mph.

The Jeep's driver, 53-year-old John M. Spencer, also of Gilroy, and John W. Spencer's son, noticed the station wagon was heading for him and began to move as far to the right edge of the road as he could, the report said.

But the cars collided in the westbound lane, the CHP said.

Any number of things, from inattention to a sudden medical problem, could have caused Rohrer to drift into the opposite lane, said CHP Officer Jan Moon. His autopsy, which should take place today or tomorrow, might shed more light on the accident's cause, she said.

John W. Spencer was a passenger in the Jeep's back seat and suffered fatal injuries at the scene. Rohrer was transported to Doctors Hospital in Modesto, where he died.

John M. Spencer suffered minor injuries and was treated at Mark Twain St. Joseph's Hospital in San Andreas. His wife, 51-year-old Patricia Spencer of Gilroy, suffered moderate injuries, including a broken leg, and was transported to Doctors Hospital, Moon said.