A 25-year-old Novato man who was speeding in his BMW on Highway 101 sustained major injuries after losing control and severing a power pole in half before the car came to rest, the California Highway Patrol reported.
Emergency responders were called at 7:47 a.m. to the wreck on southbound 101 about a quarter mile north of the Freitas Parkway offramp in Terra Linda, according to the CHP. The solo vehicle crash blocked one southbound lane for a short time.
The driver, Jose Rodriguez, reportedly suffered injuries to the face and was trapped inside the car before being extricated by firefighters. Battalion Chief Jeff Buscher of the San Rafael Fire Department said the man did not lose consciousness but was in mild distress as he was taken to Marin General Hospital.
CHP Sgt. Marcus Bartholomew said the extent of Rodriguez's injuries were "major, possibly life changing." Drugs and alcohol do not appear to be a factor in the crash, he said.
According to the initial CHP report, Rodriguez's 1991 BMW 735IL veered to the left, hit the center divide, veered to the right, went off the right shoulder, collided with the pole and came to rest upright in a ditch.
"The skidmarks looked sideways across all lanes, so we're lucky he didn't hit anybody else," Buscher said.
Witnesses told investigators that the car was driving at more than 100 mph before the crash. Rodriguez did not have a driver's license, and the CHP will seek a charge against him, Bartholomew said.
Buscher said the car sheared off the pole and sent it flying about 20 feet into some trees. The power wires were dangling from the two nearest poles, he said. PG&E crews were called to repair the downed pole.
Bartholomew said the downhill straightaway just before the Marinwood exit on southbound 101 is a spot where driver's often pick up a lot of speed and regularly hit 80 mph. The CHP's speed enforcement team uses LIDAR (laser) devices to measure speeds and try to slow drivers.
This is another bitter example of how people do not think ahead of the consequences of exceeding the speed limit," he said. "... Whatever gain was going to be made by the risk of driving that fast obviously was not worth it. This is something all of us need to constantly remind ourselves of when we get out on the freeway."
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— Bay City News Services contributed to this report.