Monday, 15 July 2024

CHP identifies Chico woman as fatal Sunday crash victim

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Three men from Winters, Calif., escaped from a burning 2009 Chevrolet pickup after it was hit in a fatal three-vehicle collision on Highway 20 in Lake County, Calif., on Sunday, July 18, 2010. Here the shell of the burned out pickup is shown after firefighters extinguished it. Photo by Miguel Lanigan.
 

 

 

 

 




PARADISE VALLEY – A young Chico woman was identified as the victim of a fatal vehicle crash that occurred on Highway 20 Sunday afternoon and left five other people injured.


Marina Bajczi, 22, died when her 2005 Chevrolet Equinox SUV was hit by a 2002 Itasca motorhome driven by 73-year-old Ernie Hunt of Cloverdale, according to a Monday California Highway Patrol report.


Hunt was traveling westbound on Highway 20 east of Verna Way near the Paradise Cove subdivision at an unknown speed when, for an unknown reason, he drifted to the left across the double yellow lines, colliding with the left front of Bajczi's vehicle, the report from CHP Officer Mark Crutcher said.


At the scene on Sunday Crutcher told Lake County News that Hunt's motorhome essentially “t-boned” Bajczi's Equinox, which had been traveling at about 35 to 40 miles per hour on impact.

After hitting Bajczi, Hunt's motorhome continued out of control, Crutcher said, hitting the front of a 2009 Chevrolet full-size pickup driven by Claude Speegle, 57, of Winters, who had been directly behind the Equinox.


The motorhome then continued off the roadway and down a steep embankment, where Crutcher said it burst into flames, causing a grass fire that burned on both sides of the roadway.


Northshore Fire Protection District and Cal Fire held joint incident command on the incident, with assistance from Lake County Fire Protection, Lake County Fire Protection and US Forest Service, according to Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Pat Brown.


Brown said Sunday that the resulting grass fire burned about five acres of grass and oaks.


The motorhome was destroyed by the fire, burning down to a heap of charred metal parts on the embankment.


Bajczi died at the scene, Crutcher said, while Hunt – who Brown said was pulled from the burning motorhome by some good Samaritans from the nearby subdivision – was flown by REACH air ambulance to UC Davis Medical Center for treatment of burns.

 

 

 

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California Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Domby examines the 2005 Chevrolet Equinox driven by Marina Bajczi, 22, of Chico, Calif., who died on Sunday, July 18, 2010, when her vehicle was hit by a motorhome driven by Ernie Hunt, 73, of Cloverdale, Calif., on Highway 20 in Lake County, Calif. Photo by Miguel Lanigan.
 

 

 

 


Ruben Masso, 30, of Chico, who was Bajczi's passenger, was transported by by REACH to Enloe Hospital, Crutcher said.


Masso was complaining of lacerations and pain, and was said to have sustained major injuries. Crutcher said he had been unable to get an update on Masso's condition as of Monday morning.


Speegle and his two passengers – 67-year-old Nick Scholl and Bob Fenili, 54, both of Winters – managed to escape from the pickup, which caught fire and was destroyed, the CHP said.


Both Speegle and Fenili had minor injuries, with Speegle complaining of pain to his chest and Fenili suffering lacerations to his left leg. Crutcher reported that Scholl had moderate injuries, with facial lacerations.


Crutcher said he had spoken with Hunt on Monday morning. Hunt sustained burns covering 8 percent of his body, and had some injuries to his neck and back.


As to the cause of the crash, “Alcohol and drugs are not a factor at this time,” Crutcher said.


Crutcher said all six people involved in the collision were wearing their safety belts.


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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A firefighter continues wetting down a 2002 Itasca motorhome driven by 73-year-old Ernie Hunt of Cloverdale, Calif. The vehicle was destroyed by fire after it collided with two other vehicles in a crash that claimed a woman's life on Highway 20 in Lake County, Calif., on Sunday, July 18, 2010. Photo by Miguel Lanigan.
 

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