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Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Highway crash, fire kills 4 in Calif. CAL Fire arrived to extinguish the two cars

The Chico Enterprise-Record
OROVILLE, Calif. — A three-car and multi-fatality accident claimed the lives of four Live Oak residents Sunday morning and injured five others, including two witnesses who attempted to help the victims, according to a California Highway Patrol press release.
Ryan Finnerty, 21, of Roseville, was driving southbound on Highway 99 just south of Highway 162 when he steered into the path of oncoming traffic. Finnerty's 2006 Dodge Dakota pickup truck struck head-on with a 2006 Ford Explorer being driven on northbound Highway 99 by Live Oak resident Rodrigo Ramirez, 41, the release cited.
Ramirez's passengers included his 11-year-old son and four others of unknown relation.
The initial collision caused Finnerty to stop and Ramirez to spin. He came to rest nearly parallel with Finnerty's vehicle, which caught fire, according to the release.
A third car, driven by Yuba City resident Richard Martinez and traveling directly behind Ramirez, attempted to swerve to the left to avoid the crash but clipped the right rear of Ramirez's vehicle. This caused Martinez to spin off into the southbound lane's dirt shoulder and come to rest, uninjured.
Within seconds of the collisions, witnesses William Hague III and Thomas Crossin, who were traveling southbound to the Sacramento Airport, stopped immediately and ran to Finnerty's car door. They pulled him to the side of the concrete railing near his car, which was at that time nearly engulfed in flames. With the help of the third driver, Richard Martinez, Crossin and Hague were able to pull out Ramirez's son and another passenger, Guillermo Morales, 35, from the second car.
Crossin suffered burns to his left hand and Hague suffered cuts to his wrist due to the rescues. Both declined medical aid.
At this time, CHP units arrived and attempted to move Finnerty, whose clothes were catching fire due to proximity to the flaming car.
CHP Officer Irvin and an unnamed rescuer dragged him away to medical aid.
Officer Thompson attempted to push Ramirez's vehicle with his squad car both from the front and the back but was unable to move it away from Finnerty's now fully-engulfed vehicle.
Spilled gas from Finnerty's ruptured gas tank spilled under Ramirez's car and engulfed it within seconds.
CAL Fire arrived to extinguish the two cars.
The bodies of the driver Rodrigo Ramirez, and his passengers, Gabriella Rosas, Gustavo Martinez and Rigoberto Martinez, all of Live Oak, ages unknown, were found inside.
Finnerty and Ramirez's young son were taken to UC Davis Medical Center, Guillermo Morales, a passenger in the second car, was taken to Enloe Medical Center and the deceased are under the care of Ramsey's Funeral Home which can be reached at 534-3877, according to the release.

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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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