A rock slide along Highway 50 caused a massive boulder to land on the front end of a pickup truck, nearly killing the driver as he headed to Lake Tahoe.
The Toyota Tacoma’s driver, who asked to be identified as Mike, didn’t see the cliff breaking apart as he drove eastbound on the highway near Wrights Lake Road around 4:30 p.m. Monday.
“It was kind of strange for a minute and I kind of was like, ‘what the hell is going on here,’ and then the rock hits me,” Mike said.
The boulder, at least five feet high and seven feet long, just missed Mike and his dog Shasta, clipping the front of Mike’s feet.
Mike’s toe was broken by the boulder. He said he is still dealing with the shock.
“It’s keeping me centered, definitely appreciate what I got going for me,” Mike said. “Keeping everything in perspective.”
The collision occurred just east of Kyburz in an area of Highway 50 marked with rock slide warning signs.
Witnesses described seeing a “mini avalanche” of rocks coming down at them just before the collision.
“The weight and size of the boulder was such that it crushed almost the entire driver’s compartment but luckily it was a little forward of where he was sitting,” California Highway Patrol Officer Laurel Walker said. “Had it been further back, I don’t want to think about what might have happened.”
Dan Grill was driving to Tahoe with a friend and was just seconds behind the slide.
“When it hit into the truck, you could see the truck get impacted, tilted to the side, and then slid three feet into another sedan,” Grill said. “It got crushed pretty bad.”
The truck slid into a car that had pulled over to install chains. No one in that car was injured.
Mike’s dog Shasta ran away after the collision, but she was reunited with her owner Tuesday after Caltrans workers found her.
“I was just concerned about her,” Mike said. “In the accident, I was sure she was a little bit hurt, and I wanted to make sure she was alright.”
The combination of California’s recent drought and El Nino makes rock slides and mud slides more likely to occur this season. Be careful when you’re driving in mountainous areas such as San Bernardino. It might also be helpful to avoid driving at night in these areas due to poor visibility.