At about 12:30 AM, Woodland Area CHP officers received several reports of a wrong-way driver traveling south in the northbound lanes of Interstate 5, north of County Road 17. While officers were responding to the scene, dispatch informed them of a traffic collision in the same area. CHP investigators said that when officers arrived, they found that the wrong-way car, described as a Chevrolet, had hit a Dodge head-on in the left lane of northbound Interstate 5. Both vehicles were on fire when officers arrived on the scene.
The woman driving the Chevrolet, a North Highlands resident, and the three women and two men in the Dodge – all Colusa County natives – were killed. The news release from CHP indicated that only the two drivers were wearing seat belts at the time of the collision.
While the Yolo County Coroners Office has yet to identify those killed, friends say that the occupants of the Dodge were Kristian Paiz, Jessica Garcia, Cristian Lopez-Cambron, Raquel Lopez-Valencia, and Yaneth Lopez.
The driver of the wrong-way vehicle has yet to be identified.
CHP said that the collision remains under investigation, and it’s unknown whether alcohol or drugs were a factor. Anyone with information about the crash is being asked to contact the California Highway Patrol Woodland office at (530) 662-4685.
Local businesses, groups organizing fundraisers for families
In addition to a GoFundMe page that has been set up for the families of the victims, a number of local folks are working to raise money to help the families with funeral expenses. Williams High School athletes will be holding a donation drive on Saturday from 10 AM to 1 PM. Athletes will be posted at the corners of various intersections along E Street, where they will be accepting donations from motorists passing through. In addition, there will be a bake sale at the Williams High School basketball game on Thursday at 5:30 PM. All of the proceeds from both fundraisers will benefit the families of the victims of Sunday morning’s tragic accident.
Granzella’s is hosting a carnitas dinner fundraiser for Gloria Garcia, an employee of the business and the mother of Jessica Garcia, on Saturday from 5 to 8 PM at the Granzella’s Banquet Hall. Tickets are $10, and can be bought at the door or in advance at Granzella’s at the cashier stand in the restaurant. All proceeds go to Gloria Garcia.
Louis Cairos, where Jessica Garcia and Yaneth Lopez both worked, plans to donate 10 percent of all sales at the restaurant on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to each of the five families. ■