A California Highway Patrol vehicle was part of a three-car collision that resulted in the death of a Willows teenager on Tuesday, according to the CHP.
The crash occurred at 3:22 p.m. as the officer was northbound on Interstate 5 in Orland approaching a construction zone. He looked down at his computer screen while driving, which briefly distracted him, a CHP spokeswoman said. When he looked up from the screen, traffic had slowed for the construction zone. The officer immediately hit the brakes but was unable to stop in time to avoid a collision. His car slammed into the rear end of the car in front of him, causing a chain-reaction collision.
Weston Sites, 15, a passenger in the back seat of a 2013 Hyundai, the car in front of the CHP vehicle, suffered fatal injuries. The other occupants of the Hyundai, two sisters ages 17 and 14, also of Williows, were taken to Enloe Medical Center in Chico for treatment of what the CHP described as minor injuries. The CHP officer also suffered minor injuries and was taken to the hospital.
Two other vehicles, a 2013 Ford driven by a 22-year-old woman from Orland, and a 2015 Jeep,driven by a 44-year-old man from Vancouver, British Columbia, also were involved in the collision.
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The CHP, in a news release issued Wednesday, said, “The CHP extends our deepest condolences to the family of the teenager who was killed in this collision and our wishes for a smooth recovery for those injured.”
The name of the 49-year-old officer involved in the collision was not released. He was identified as a 20-year veteran of the department assigned to the CHP’s Northern Division headquarters in Redding.
An investigation of the collision will be conducted by the CHP’s Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team, which will examine all aspects of the collision, including the officer’s actions up to and at the time of the collision, according to the news release.
Northbound I-5 was closed for six hours due to the collision, according to the California Department of Transportation. The closure caused a one-hour delay for motorists.