Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Wednesday morning crash sends four to hospitals; local man arrested

LOWER LAKE – A Clearlake man was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of a controlled substance following a Wednesday morning crash that sent him and three other people to hospitals around the region.


Stephen Phipps, 46, was placed under arrest at the scene of the crash, on Highway 53 near Anderson Ranch Parkway, according to the California Highway Patrol. Phipps was later transported by REACH to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for internal injuries.


At 7:40 a.m. Phipps was driving a 2002 Ford Ranger pickup northbound on Highway 53 with passenger Jody Westphall, 53, of Clearlake, CHP Officer Steve Tanguay reported.


Tanguay said that as Phipps was approaching Anderson Ranch Parkway, witnesses reported he allowed his vehicle to veer to the left and cross over the left center turn lane, entering the southbound lane of traffic.


Luisa Enriquez, 43, of Clearlake, was driving a 2000 Oldsmobile van southbound on Highway 53 when the Ford Ranger crossed the center lane directly in front of her, Tanguay said.


Local resident Frank Bingel and his teenage daughter were traveling in their vehicle behind Enriquez – Bingel estimated they were about 10 car lengths back. “We were right behind the van but not that close, luckily,” he said.


Bingel and his daughter witnessed Phipps' pickup veer across the lanes and hit Enriquez's van. He said it happened so quickly that Enriquez didn't have a chance to respond.


He estimated Enriquez and Phipps were traveling at around 45 to 50 miles per hour when they hit head-on in the area near the Lake Transit building on Highway 53.


“It was pretty bad,” said Bingel, who noted that his daughter – who was driving their vehicle – was able to stop the car in time to avoid being involved in the crash.


Tanguay said the vehicles came to rest blocking one of the southbound lanes of traffic.


Enriquez was transported by REACH to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for broken bones in her legs. Tanguay said that a 12-year-old boy riding as a passenger with her was transported by REACH to Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland for broken bones in his leg, arm and face.


Westphall also was transported by REACH to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for internal injuries, Tanguay said.


The roadway remained closed for a portion of the investigation, Tanguay said. All of the involved parties were wearing their seat belts and the air bags deployed in both vehicles.


CHP Officer Greg Buchholz is investigating the collision, Tanguay said.


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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