A 19-year-old woman drove a Toyota Prius the wrong way on Highway 50 for over five miles before crashing head-on into a Ford F-150 truck carrying three people early Wednesday, April 22nd. The crash occurred at 2:24 a.m. near Stockton Boulevard. Four people, the occupants of the Prius and the F-150 were pronounced dead at the scene. Two of the victims in the truck have been identified as Nick Bacareza, 74, and Pepito Rivera, 81, both of Stockton. The driver of the wrong-way Prius was identified as Elizabet Torres-Zela, 19, of Carmichael. The driver of a third vehicle, a Hyundai Sonata involved in the crash escaped with minor injuries.
It is unknown why Torres-Zela, who had no previous driving violations, was driving east on the westbound 50. Torres-Zela was first spotted traveling the wrong-way on Highway 50 near Harbor Boulevard in West Sacramento. Authorities planning to intercept her vehicle witnessed the crash. The wreckage between the Prius and the F-150 put the truck in the path of the Sonata. When the Sonata struck the truck, the truck caught fire. None of the men in the truck were able to escape.
Highway 50 was closed for hours for investigation and cleanup. Authorities are investigating whether alcohol or drugs played a factor in the crash.
According to crash statistic, more than half of wrong-way drivers are under the influence. Between 2011 and 2013, 124 people were killed in wrong-way crashes in California. Legislation to authorize a study on wrong-way crashes is currently scheduled for a vote in the California Assembly at the end of this month.