News

Six injured in Vasco Road crash Friday night

12-year-old suffers serious arm injuries when vehicle drifts off roadway

Six people sustained minor to major injuries in a solo vehicle crash on a windy road in unincorporated Contra Costa County Friday night, according to the California Highway Patrol.

At 10:26 p.m., the CHP received a report that a vehicle ran off the roadway and was blocking the northbound lane of Vasco Road about a mile north of the county line shared with Alameda County, CHP Officer Ralph Caggiano said.

CHP officers from units in Contra Costa County and Dublin responded to the scene where they found one adult and five juveniles who had been traveling in a 1998 Toyota Land Cruiser sport utility vehicle, Caggiano said.

Injuries ranged from a cut on the head and a complaint of neck pain to loss of consciousness and a partial amputation of an arm below the elbow, he said.

"It was a pretty big scene," Caggiano said.

Contra Costa County firefighters responded to the scene, along with two air ambulances and three ground ambulances to transport the six victims to several different local hospitals.

The driver was transported to Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch. It was not clear in the CHP report if the driver was the adult or one of the youth.

A 12-year-old boy was transported to Children's Hospital in Oakland after his left arm was partially amputated below his elbow. He also sustained a cut to his left leg, Caggiano said.

Vasco Road is no stranger to serious car crashes, and work began in May to make major safety improvements along a 2.5-mile stretch of the 15-mile winding two-lane road.

On May 24, construction crews broke ground on the first phase of the Vasco Road Safety Improvement Project, which will widen the roadway and install a median barrier along one mile of what is considered the road's most treacherous section in the southernmost section of Contra Costa County.

The second phase of the project will extend the safety improvements for another 1.5 miles.

The road -- a major commuter route between Brentwood and Oakley in Contra Costa County and Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore in Alameda County -- has been the site of numerous fatal accidents over the past decade.

Between 1996 and 2008, 16 people were killed in crashes on Contra Costa County's portion of the road.

"Everybody was moving out to Brentwood and Oakley," Caggiano said. "Vasco was the way to get them out to [Interstate Highway 580, and they were having a lot of head-on crashes."

Although fatal accidents decreased dramatically over the past two years after the CHP instated a double-fine zone and increased enforcement, at least one person has been killed on the road since those safety measures were put in place.

In May 2009, a 25-year-old Oakley woman was killed along Vasco Drive south of Byron in unincorporated Contra Costa County.

Improvements to the road in Alameda County have already been completed.

Federal stimulus funds are paying for the project's first phase, which is expected to cost about $8.5 million. The second phase will be paid for with a combination of stimulus funds and money from a county transportation tax, along with funds from Proposition 1B, approved by state voters in 2006.

Work on both phases is expected to be completed in late 2011.

Patricia Decker, Bay City News

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