A 45-year-old Watsonville woman was badly hurt when a motorist crashed into a disabled vehicle and caused the car to slam into the woman a freeway off ramp late Sunday, the California Highway Patrol reported.
The crash happened at 10:14 p.m. CHP officer Sarah Jackson explained the sequence of events:
Watsonville resident Tania Morales, 19, had stopped her black 1995 Honda Accord on the right shoulder of the southbound Highway 1 off ramp at Airport Boulevard. The car was disabled—Jackson didn't know what the problem was—and Morales had remained inside, along with a 4-year-old girl who was the backseat.
Blanca Servin, 45, was assisting Morales and was standing outside the car when a 2001 red Ford Ranger pickup driven by 55-year-old Allen Morford of Watsonville exited the highway and made an unsafe turning movement. It caused his pickup to hit the Honda, propelling the car into Servin, Jackson said.
Morford wasn't injured, according to the CHP.
Morales and the girl in her car (unknown relation to Morales) suffered moderate injuries but were not transported to a hospital, Jackson said.
Servin survived the collision, but suffered major injuries and was flown out to Stanford Medical Center, Jackson said.
Morford wasn’t driving under the influence, according to Jackson.
"Other than that, the cause of the collision was under investigation," she said.
Jackson urged people to avoid stopping on the side of a freeway.
“When you’re that close to traffic that’s going 65 mph or more, the shoulder of the freeway is not a safe place to be for any extended period of time," Jackson said. “... There is a reason why there are not non-emergency stops allowed on the freeway. This, obviously, she could not help it. There was something wrong with her car.”
Jackson pointed out that a vehicle with a flat tire will roll for some time and motorists dealing with this issue should move off the freeway if possible. She didn't know if that's the problem Morales had Sunday night.
Also, stopping on an off ramp is not ideal, Jackson said. Exiting vehicles may still be traveling at high speeds.
"On ramps and off ramps are still just as dangerous as the freeway itself," Jackson said.
But for motorists who are stranded on the freeway, Jackson said people should stay in the vehicle with their seat belts on or stand outside of the car up an embankment
“The less exposure you have to traffic, the better," Jackson said.