Several injured after head-on bridge crash

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May 21, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Thursday afternoon on the Golden Gate Bridge there was another head-on crash with devastating consequences.

A 13-year-old girl is suffering from major head injuries. She was in the car with her mother who is also in critical condition.

The collision happened near the north tower just after 3 p.m. Three vehicles were involved, including a Honda CRV. Officers say it was so mangled, that emergency crews had to cut it in pieces to get to a mother and her 13-year-old daughter inside.

Investigators say a man in a Volkswagon Passat was driving south on the Golden Gate Bridge, when he swerved into the northbound lanes. He sideswiped another Volkswagon, before colliding with the Honda CRV head on.

"Based on witness information and evidence at the scene, such as skid marks, we do believe speed was a factor," said Sergeant Trent Cross, a CHP spokesperson.

And the 47-year-old driver of the Passat, who was believed to be speeding, was taken to San Francisco General Hospital where he is recovering from moderate injuries.

As for the mother and daughter in the Honda CRV, their injuries are much worse. In fact, the mother had to be airlifted to John Muir Hospital because of the seriousness of her condition.

"I stay out of that lane just because of that. Especially in high winds like this, because my truck blows into other lanes, so it's not surprising an accident is going to happen," said Steven Hegarty, a commuter.

This is the second crossover accident on the Golden Gate Bridge within two months. In March, 10 vehicles collided and seven people were injured.

The Golden Gate Bridge District says a moveable median barrier is coming to the high-profile span in hopes it will prevent such crossover collisions in the future, but it probably won't arrive for another two to three years.

"One of the issues that has to be resolved, is where will we park a huge transfer machine? Here in a view shed that's in the middle of a national park? So there are issues that have to be resolved," said Mary Currie, from the Golden Gate Bridge District.

Resolving those issues can't come soon enough for commuters. They not only have to deal with the back up when a collision occurs, but they fear that one day they too will eventually become the victim of a head on collision on the Golden Gate Bridge.

"It's crazy, I mean, this has always been a problem here," said Calvin Lawrence, a commuter.

Despite Wednesday's accident and the one in March, Golden Gate Bridge officials say the accident rate on the bridge is still relatively low. In fact, they say it's three times lower than it was in the 1980's.