Caltrans truck object struck man before fatal crash on Hwy 101

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- There is new information about last week's freakish death of an elderly driver on Hwy 101 on the Peninsula when he was hit by a large metal nut or bolt and kicked up by traffic. Now, Caltrans is coming forward to say the part fell off one of its trucks.

Items falling off vehicles is unfortunately common on Bay Area roads, but the CHP says this is the first time they can remember it happening to a Caltrans vehicle.

New details have emerged about the tragic incident that claimed the life of an 82-year-old Mountain View man on Friday afternoon. Police say a brass nut or bolt about the size of a baseball crashed through Louis Schaefer's windshield while he was driving north on Highway 101 in Palo Alto. It hit him in the neck, his van went off the road and crashed along the center divider before it came to a stop. Schaefer died at the scene.

RELATED: Man killed in freak accident on Hwy 101 in Palo Alto identified

Today, the CHP says that object is from a Caltrans water truck. The investigation revealed that truck was travelling southbound on 101 around the same time as the crash when it blew a tire.

"We now need to find out what happened. How this piece came off the Caltrans truck and see if this is something that can be avoided in the future," said Art Montiel, CHP spokesman

CHP investigators are trying to figure out if the metal piece went right from the Caltrans truck into the windshield, or if another vehicle's tire kicked it up into the air. This morning, Caltrans responded to the preliminary investigation report and released a statement. They say the truck was driving between job sites at the time of the incident. Caltrans will continue to cooperate with CHP as they finish their investigation. Caltrans offers its deepest condolences to Mr. Schaefer's family and friends.

The CHP is still looking for more witnesses, or even dash cam video, so they can try to figure out exactly what happened.

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