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High winds on U.S. Highway 395 caused one big rig rollover that prompted the California Highway Patrol to begin escorting vehicles along the main corridor over the weekend.
While conducting escorts, the winds were so strong that one officer reported blowing rocks and sand broke the window of his patrol vehicle Saturday.
According to a press release, the CHP received reports of a single-vehicle big rig rollover about a quarter-mile north of State Route 167 north of Lee Vining at about 3:45 p.m. Saturday.
At the time of the collision, the CHP said that Caltrans was notifying motorists of extreme wind and hazardous driving conditions via changeable message signs along the highway. Specifically, the signs were warning high-profile vehicles of the windy conditions.
Following the report, a CHP officer from the Bridgeport area responded to the collision and began an investigation into the cause of the incident. Â
According to the CHP, the driver of the vehicle, John Miller, 50, of Pierce, Colo., and his passenger, Tiffany Mosley, 30, of Farmington, N.M., were at the scene. The CHP said Mosley was complaining of pain to her head, neck and lower back and sustained minor cuts to her arms. Â Due to the dangerous winds, a deputy from the Mono County Sheriffâ€™s Department transported both Pierce and Mosley to the Lee Vining Fire Department, where they were evaluated by medical personnel. Mosley was then transported to Mammoth Hospital by Mono County Paramedics. Pierce later said that he was driving northbound on U.S. Highway 395 at approximately 10-20 mph when a gust of wind, later determined a wind gust of Â 85 mph (according to automated Caltrans wind velocity sensors in the area), toppled his truck and trailer.
At 4:30 p.m. the CHP closed this portion of U.S. Highway 395 for all vehicular traffic. From 4:30- 8:08 p.m., five CHP officers and one lieutenant manned highway closure locations north of Lee Vining and south of Bridgeport. CHP personnel escorted vehicles through the area in groups of between 40 and 100 vehicles at speeds appropriate for the windy conditions. Â Escorted traffic caused delays of up to one hour for some motorists.Â During this time high-profile vehicles (â€śbig-rigsâ€ť and recreations vehicles) and vehicles pulling trailers were prohibited from traveling on U.S. Highway 395 north of Bishop and south of the California/Nevada state line.
â€śThis is the second time in less than two weeks that a driver was northbound on U.S. Highway 395 in a high-profile vehicle, passed Caltransâ€™ CMS advising travel was not recommended and the vehicle was overturned by the wind resulting in a closure of the roadway.Â Drivers should strongly consider information contained on advisory signs,â€ť said Bridgeport office of the CHP Commander Lieutenant R.D. Cohan.
The Bridgeport office of the CHP is also investigating an alleged driving under the influence accident that was reported at about 10 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13.
According to the CHP, the Bishop Communication Center received a report of an abandoned vehicle with major traffic collision damage on U.S. Highway 395.
A CHP officer from the Bridgeport Areaâ€™s Mammoth Lakes Resident Post responded to the collision location and began an investigation.Â According to a press release, the registered owner of the vehicle arrived on scene and confirmed his brother, Gustavo Calderon-Moreno, a longtime June Lake resident, had been driving the vehicle and left the scene of the collision.Â
CHP officers responded to Calderon-Morenoâ€™s residence and contacted him there. â€śAfter interviewing Mr. Calderon-Moreno and having him perform a series of field sobriety tests, it was determined he had been driving while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage,â€ť the press release states.
The vehicle was towed from the collision scene and Calderon-Moreno was subsequently cited and released for alleged DUI and hit and run. Calderon-Morenoâ€™s driver license was seized and driving privilege was suspended.
Charges are pending through the Mono County District Attorneyâ€™s Office.
â€śIt is unfortunate Mr. Calderon-Moreno chose to drive after drinking. His vehicle was damaged, he lost his driver license and has legal issues ahead.Â It is fortunate he was wearing his seatbelt, was not injured, and that he did not injure anyone else,â€ť said Lieutenant Cohan.