DANVILLE, Calif. - The accident happened in an instant and proved to be the worst of luck for the driver of a silver Mercedes.
Dr. Lyudmila Beyzer, 58, was driving Northbound on Interstate 680 in Danville, just as a dead pine tree collapsed onto the road in front of her.
"The calls came out that there was possibly a tree down and there was one vehicle involved with the tree," said Sgt. Eric Butawan of the California Highway Patrol. "Unknown at this time if the vehicle collided with the tree or the tree landed on top of the vehicle. That part's still under investigation."
The car was heavily damaged and Beyzer pronounced dead at the scene. The tree approximately 70 feet tall was clearly dead, perched just 20 yards up on the hillside above the freeway, just north of the El Pintado on ramp. It's property owned by Caltrans.
With traffic backed up for miles, Caltrans crews worked to clear the tree from the roadway.
At the same time, CHP investigators conducted their investigation where the car ended up, about an eighth of mile beyond the tree. It all happened during the morning rush hour.
"It could've been worse. It was during commute time," said Butawan. "Thankfully there was only one vehicle involved. Our condolences to the family. It's a terrible time. Hopefully we can get as much information and figure out what happened for them."
Caltrans spokesman Bob Haus confirmed the tree was sitting on state property. The agency released a statement Monday afternoon saying, "Caltrans expresses its deepest condolences to the family of the victim of this incident. The safety of the traveling public is our highest priority. We are currently examining the causes of this unfortunate incident."
Beyzer was a physician with John Muir Health. They released a statement Monday saying, "We are deeply saddened to hear about the sudden and tragic passing of Dr. Lyudmila Beyzer. She was a member of the John Muir Health Physician Network for 15 years and will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with her family, friends, patients, colleagues and staff at this very difficult time."
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