Friday, 12 July 2024

Lakeport family injured in Thursday crash


CLEARLAKE OAKS – A Lakeport family was injured in an early morning crash near Clearlake Oaks on Thursday when their car collided with a big rig.

The California Highway Patrol said Benjamin De Luna, 46, and his wife, Beatrice, 45, of Lakeport were transported by REACH air ambulance following the crash, which was reported at approximately 5:46 a.m. Both were reported to have sustained major injuries.

The family appeared to be traveling out of the county on Christmas Eve morning when the crash occurred, according to the CHP.

Their children, Carlos De Luna, 21, and Daniel De Luna, 14, also sustained injuries in the crash, the CHP reported.

Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Pat Brown said the crash occurred in the “S” turns on Highway 20 west of the Cache Creek bridge near Clearlake Oaks.

CHP Officer Steve Tanguay reported that Gary Kirby, 46, of Santa Rosa was driving his vehicle, a 2004 International tractor truck and single axle semi-trailer, westbound on Highway 20 at a stated speed of 45 miles per hour while traveling through a curve in the road.

Benjamin De Luna was driving his vehicle, a 1992 Toyota Camry, eastbound on Highway 20 at between 45 and 50 miles per hour, approaching Kirby's location, according to the report.

Tanguay said Kirby fell asleep, allowing his vehicle to drift into the eastbound traffic lane. He was awakened by the centerline rumble strip and noticed De Luna's oncoming Toyota.

Kirby aggressively applied the brakes of his vehicle and swerved to his right. De Luna swerved to his right in an attempt to avoid striking Kirby's vehicle. The left front section of De Luna's Toyota struck the left side of Kirby's semi-trailer, Tanguay said.

The Toyota was driven under the semi-trailer where the front section struck the rear axle assembly of the semi-trailer. Tanguay said the Toyota came to rest on its wheels within the eastbound lane of traffic facing in a northerly direction. Kirby drove his vehicle onto the westbound shoulder in order to keep it out of the traffic lane.

Tanguay said Benjamin and Beatrice De Luna both had to be extricated from the vehicle.

Brown said the extrication took about 40 minutes, as firefighters removed the Toyota's roof and doors, using multiple extrication tools.

Making things more difficult was that the car's dashboard had compressed on the couple, and it had to be raised to free them, he said.

He said two helicopters landed near the accident scene to transport the patients.

Tanguay said Benjamin De Luna was transported via helicopter to Enloe Hospital in Chico, while Beatrice De Luna was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

Katy Hillenmeyer, spokesperson for Santa Rosa Memorial, said Beatrice De Luna was in fair condition Thursday afternoon.

Enloe officials could not be reached for comment on Benjamin De Luna's condition.

Brown said Northshore Fire ambulance transported the younger De Lunas to St. Helena Hospital Clearlake. They were treated for minor injuries, according to the CHP.

Northshore Fire Protection District sent two advanced life support medics, two engine companies, a rescue unit and one battalion chief, Brown said. Lake County Fire Protection District responded with mutual aid, sending to the scene one advanced life support medic and a rescue company, for a total of 14 personnel.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

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