Crime - Sacto 911

Caltrans worker escapes serious injuries when tree falls on truck in Nevada County

A California Department of Transportation employee escaped serious injury when a falling tree crushed the top of his pickup truck on Highway 49 in Nevada County.

Joseph E. Vaars, 46, a resident of the Grass Valley area, was driving a Caltrans Ford F-250 pickup truck on Highway 49 north of the Fawnbrooke Access Road about 2:05 a.m. Tuesday.

A large tree on the west side of the roadway, became uprooted due to heavy rain, wind and saturated soil, and fell in an easterly direction onto the highway and the moving pickup, according to a California Highway Patrol news release.

Vaars saw the falling tree out of the corner of his eye and leaned to his right across the front seat. The tree fell onto the pickup, crushing the entire top of the vehicle, including the cab compartment and roof, the news release said.

Vaars had no time to to apply the brakes or steer away from the falling tree before it struck, according to the CHP, but he was eventually able to stop the truck and get out of the vehicle on his own.

He was taken to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital in Grass Valley with what the CHP described as moderate injuries.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy