San Andreas, CA — Two local residents suffered major injuries in a Wednesday night wreck after being rear-ended in a construction zone by an alleged DUI truck driver.
Just after 10 p.m., the California Highway Patrol (CHP) San Andreas Unit reports that the driver, identified as 37-year-old Steven Leitner of Valley Springs, was headed west on Highway 26 in a 2016 Ford utility truck, approaching Baldwin Street at about 55 miles-per-hour. Police say he failed to see that two vehicles ahead of him had stopped, due to construction zone traffic controls underway near that street.
Police indicate that Leitner’s truck first hit a 2005 Jeep Wrangler containing two Valley Springs residents; driver Gayla Watson, 51, and her passenger Arlon Watson, 52. The force of the impact propelled her vehicle into the one just ahead of her; a 2014 Kenworth, driven by Joshua Turpen, 40, of Yuba City. The Jeep then careened across the eastbound lane and over the south side of the highway, resulting in major injuries to the Watsons. Leitner’s truck also hit the back of Turpen’s vehicle before coming to a stop.
According to the CHP, Gayla was subsequently airlifted to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto; Arlon transported by ground ambulance to Mark Twain Medical Center. No injuries were reported to Turpen or Leitner, who was suspected of being under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash. Leitner now faces felony charges for causing an injury traffic collision while driving intoxicated.