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Drivers question safety of Hwy 101 intersection after deadly crashes

Posted at 5:39 PM, Oct 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-09 21:34:41-04

In the last few days, there have been two deadly crashes near the intersection of El Campo Road and Highway 101 outside of Arroyo Grande.

On Sunday, a motorcyclist died after he collided with a BMW near the El Campo intersection. CHP says the driver of the sedan made an unsafe left turn in front of the teen.

Tuesday morning, another motorcyclist died after he struck a deer just north of the same intersection.

By Tuesday afternoon, another non-injury crash was reported at the El Campo intersection.

Quality Wine Barrels is located just off El Campo Road. Employees say it’s just the latest in what’s become a common occurrence.

“From our building up top here, we can actually hear the accidents when somebody is crossing over, especially when they cross over from El Campo to go northbound. It happens quite a bit, it’s scary, it’s loud,” said Michael Mclaughlin, an employee at Quality Wine Barrels.

Mclaughlin says employees sometimes get involved, helping crash victims get to safety.

“It happens quite a bit, especially since we’re right here. We almost take it as part of the job to help,” Mclaughlin added.

The intersection has become notoriously dangerous.

“They have to really catch up to the oncoming freeway speeds. Most of the time, I merge onto the slow lane to try to give them that extra space,” said Nolberto Chavez, a Santa Maria resident who makes the commute daily.

“It’s terrifying, it’s absolutely terrifying. Making that turn from the 101 to El Campo, especially making the left-hand turn going from southbound. It’s scary crossing over when the southbound traffic is going through,” Mclaughlin said.

CHP officials say Tuesday morning’s crash had nothing to do with the difficulty of the road. However, Sunday’s crash has drivers questioning the safety of the intersection.

Those who take the route daily say they use detours to avoid that stretch of the highway but would like to see improvements so that they don’t have to.

“I would recommend putting some hazard lights, yellow lights that flash letting drivers know that there is an intersection,” Chavez said.

Caltrans officials say they’re working with their partners to consider some solutions.

CHP officials recommend that drivers take another exit to avoid El Campo Road if they feel uncomfortable merging onto the highway.

The motorcyclist who was killed in the crash on Sunday has been identified as Jordan Grant,18, of Plano, Texas. Grant was a first-year computer engineering student at Cal Poly. The university is planning a memorial for him Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the University Union Plaza.

The CHP identified the motorcyclist who died on Tuesday morning as Johnny Dale Trujillo, 49, of Los Osos.