Highway 46 crash kills 1, injures 6 - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Highway 46 crash kills 1, injures 6

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A crash Thursday on Highway 46 at the Cholame 'Y' intersection with Highway 41 killed one person and injured six others, including three children.

The California Highway Patrol says a family from Las Vegas and another family from San Jose were both traveling on vacation when their trips took a terrible turn.

Investigators say the family from San Jose was in an Itasca motorhome heading eastbound on Highway 46 when the driver, identified as 44-year-old Francisco Savala III, turned left directly in front of a Chevy pickup hauling a fifth wheel.

"The motorhome was going to turn onto Highway 41 turning left, when they did that, the vehicle with the trailer collided with the motorhome," said Sgt. Dennis Aguilar with CHP.

A woman in the passenger seat of the motorhome, identified as 37-year-old Cheryl Vanwettering, was ejected. She was pronounced dead at the scene. CHP said she was not wearing a seat belt.

A child was also ejected from the motorhome. The 14-year-old boy was airlifted by CHP helicopter H70 to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center with major injuries. He was one of three children sitting unrestrained in the back "living portion" of the motorhome, CHP said. A 13-year-old boy and 8-year-old girl were taken to Twin Cities Community hospital with minor injuries along with Savala, the driver.

CHP reports the 60-year-old man driving the pickup suffered major injuries and was taken to Twin Cities with his passenger, a 59-year-old woman whose injuries were not as severe.

"There's not a lot of room for error on this roadway because of this volume of traffic," said Sgt. Aguilar, adding that he's responded several times to this area for head-on crashes.

"I've lost track. I've lost count. I know this week has been busy, and when weather gets better, it's going to get busier."

Drivers at the rest stop near the crash site say the James Dean Memorial Junction is known for its collisions.

"You know to respect this road because it's very, very dangerous," said Michael Branum, a driver along Highway 46. 

A sign near the crash site urges drivers to be careful.

"Drive safe and keep an eye what's around you because it's dangerous," said Sgt. Aguilar.

CHP says drugs or alcohol do not appear to have played a role in the crash. No one was arrested.

Officers say they'd like to remind people it is state law for everyone to wear a seat belt - no matter where they are sitting in an RV.

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