UPDATE: Fatal collision involved alcohol

By Zoë Strickland, Staff Writer, SoCoNews, April 14, 2021


Photo from Bodega Volunteer Fire Department Facebook page

A series of collisions and a fire north of Valley Road on Highway 1 late Friday night, April 10, left one driver dead and sent another to the hospital with serious, non-life-threatening injuries, according to a press release from the California Highway Patrol (CHP).

The crashes involved three vehicles and the two surviving drivers “were found to be under the influence” and arrested while an investigation seeks to determine whether the deceased driver was also intoxicated, the press release said.

The Sonoma County Coroner’s Office is still trying to identify the deceased driver of a Nissan Frontier, whose body was too damaged by the crashes and subsequent fire to identify by his fingerprints, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Misti Wood said on April 13.

The individual’s family cannot be informed of his death until the coroner’s team can identify the person through biological means, she said, and then the name may be released publicly afterward.

“The cause and manner of death, it can take months,” Wood said, explaining that the process of determining exactly how an individual died begins after next of kin has been notified and is “the culmination” of the death investigation as a whole.

Wood said an autopsy and toxicology screenings are usually part of an investigation into the cause and manner of death, but that she did not know the specific plans for this investigation.

Per the CHP statement, Santa Rosa CHP officers headed to the site at about 11:30 p.m., where it appears a southbound Nissan Frontier and a Dodge truck heading north struck each other head-on at unknown speeds, according to initial investigation. CHP is trying to find out which entered the opposite lane, but the vehicles ultimately blocked the roadway when they steadied.

A driver in a Ford Ranger then drove up north on Highway 1 without registering the two cars, and the Ranger’s right side hit the Dodge truck’s left side, then crashed into the Nissan’s rear when it traveled north, according to the CHP.

“The Nissan became engulfed in flames, but it is still under investigation whether the fire started after the first crash or the second crash,” the press release said. The Nissan’s driver died, although his passenger got out of the car. The press release did not say whether the passenger had any injuries.

The April 10 announcement stated Joseph Mantua, a 47-year-old Bodega Bay resident and the Dodge truck’s driver, was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for serious injuries in addition to being established as intoxicated and arrested. Twenty-five-year-old Winter Nason, a Santa Rosa resident and the Ford’s driver, was also found intoxicated and arrested, coming away from the crash with minor injuries, the press release said.

The CHP requests witnesses contact the Santa Rosa CHP Office at 707-588-1400.

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