Rain, slippery roads lead to multiple Highway 17 accidents

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- In a span of just three hours, crews from the Santa Clara County Fire Department have responded to four vehicle accidents along Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz mountains.

The accidents started happening at 11:30 a.m. Friday as light rain and showers swept across the region. ABC7 News was at the site of a car that lost control, went down an embankment and landed about 100 feet below the roadway. This accident was in the northbound lanes of Highway 17 just north of Summit Road.

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Fire department public information officer Bill Murphy said the driver suffered "no significant injuries." The same was true for the other three accidents.

ABC7 News was also at the scene of an overturned pickup truck in the southbound lanes of Highway 17 near Idylwild Road. The driver declined to provide details of what happened, but the passenger said the road was slippery and that the pickup started fishtailing.

Before control was regained, the pickup struck the rock wall and caused the truck to land on its side. Both driver and passenger got out safely.

The rain during the day Friday was not bothersome to local mountain residents, who say they are used to heavy rainfall and potential mudslides and flooding.

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However, a docent at Henry Cowell State Park in Felton said the San Lorenzo River was still at a low level and, in her opinion, did not pose a threat. She pointed at the roots of a tree on the bank, which she said was where the river level was the last time there was flooding.

The river was flowing well below that level. A ranger confirmed the park was operating as usual in the absence of any flood advisories or watches.

At nearby Felton Grove, a small enclave of cottages and homes, there was no sandbagging of ground-level doors or garages as is typical when flooding is a possibility. This is one area that usually sees flooding when waters rise.

ABC7 News meteorologist Mike Nicco says the Santa Cruz mountains can expect to see the heaviest rain Friday evening through Saturday morning as winds shift from the west-northwest to the southwest. Southwest winds produce more rain than west-northwest winds, Nicco said.

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