Multiple crashes lead to deadly weekend on Central Coast

The California Highway Patrol is reminding drivers to be cautious after three fatal accidents in Monterey County over the weekend — and another near Hollister that left four Carmel Valley residents dead.

The Carmel Unified School District shared a message with Carmel Middle School families and staff providing details of the fatal crash on Highway 156 near Hollister.

“It is with deep sadness that we inform you about a recent loss to our school community,” the message read. “Last night, August 14, 2022, Lucy, Leigh and Ben Biakanja, along with their mother, passed away in a car accident. They were all enrolled in Carmel Middle School and attended Tularcitos before joining CMS.”

According to the Highway Patrol, the Biakanja family was driving east in a 2014 Tesla at 10:05 p.m. Sunday on Highway 156, west of Fairview Road, when for reasons unknown the vehicle made a left turning movement causing it to go over the double yellow lines and collide with the front of a 2015 Freightliner big rig.

The truck driver was taken to Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital in Hollister with minor injuries. The CHP says it is unknown if drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash. Any witnesses are requested to contact officer Stewart at (408) 848-2324 with information.

The school district stated in its message that the school has a grief response team made up of professionals trained to help with the needs of students, families and school personnel at difficult times.

“This loss is sure to raise many emotions, concerns, and questions for our entire school, especially our students,” the message read. “We shared this information with our CMS staff and then students in their classrooms. Mental health professionals recommend providing as much of a normal routine as possible when children receive this type of traumatic news. While we did try to provide the traditional Monday routine for students, they were also encouraged to visit the Wellness Center or talk to a trusted adult if they needed additional support.”

Moss Landing

The crash followed a pedestrian death on Highway 1 near Moss Landing Sunday morning. A female pedestrian was walking north on Highway 1, south of Springfield Road, in the southbound lane of traffic at about 6:01 a.m. when a 2018 Honda Accord heading south on the highway struck the pedestrian. The driver stopped and went to aid the injured pedestrian. As the driver tried to warn traffic, the CHP said the pedestrian was struck by at least two other vehicles.

The pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene. The CHP did not provide an age or hometown of the pedestrian. Drugs or alcohol are not believed to be a factor in the incident. Anyone with information related to this incident is encouraged to contact the Highway Patrol at (831) 770-8000.

Salinas-Monterey Highway

A 48-year-old Salinas man died as a result of his injuries from a crash that took place on the Salinas-Monterey Highway stretch of Highway 68 Saturday. At 6:10 p.m., a black 2022 BMW 330i was traveling west on Highway 68 east of Spreckels Boulevard in the No. 1 lane when it crossed the two-way left turn lane and entered the eastbound No. 1 lane where the left front of the car struck the left front of a red 2017 Toyota Camry.

The Salinas man, who was driving the Camry, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. A passenger in the vehicle was transported to a local hospital for major injuries.

Daniel John Wetle, 40, of Marina was the driver of the BMW. He was arrested on scene for DUI and vehicular manslaughter and later booked into Monterey County Jail.

This crash is currently under investigation by the California Highway Patrol . If any member of the public has information regarding this crash, they are encouraged to contact the Highway Patrol at (831) 796-2160.


The final fatal crash of the weekend came on Monday at 4:02 a.m. The Highway Patrol responded to a single-vehicle rollover crash in the center median of northbound Highway 1, south of Lightfighter Drive, in which the driver was ejected from the vehicle. Emergency medical personnel responded to the scene and assisted with life-saving efforts, but the driver, an 18-year-old Seaside man, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The CHP says that at an unknown time, the driver of the 2010 Hyundai Sonata was driving southbound on Highway 1, south of Lightfighter Drive, at a high rate of speed.  As a result of the vehicle’s speed, the driver failed to negotiate a slight right-hand curve in the roadway, and the Hyundai left the east roadside edge of southbound  Highway 1.  The vehicle rolled over, and the driver was ejected. The vehicle came to rest on its roof near the northbound lanes of traffic.

THe CHP says alcohol or drugs are not believed to be a factor in this crash, which is currently under investigation. If any member of the public has information regarding this crash, they are encouraged to contact the California Highway Patrol at (831) 796-2160 and provide a statement.

Contributed by local news sources

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