According to the California Highway Patrol, the accident occurred around 7 a.m. at the intersection of Ridge and Climax roads, when a 1998 Dodge Intrepid turned directly into the path of a 40,000-pound crane truck. The driver of the Intrepid, 40-year-old Todd Castaldi of Pine Grove, was driving eastbound on Lower Ridge Road as he approached the intersection. With him in the passenger seat was 27-year-old Christina Wise, also of Pine Grove.
Castaldi turned left onto Upper Ridge Road and headed straight into the path of a 2002 Sterling crane truck, coming down westbound on Climax. The truck’s driver, 43-year-old Jeff Gregorius, had no time to stop his massive vehicle. Castaldi’s sedan took the full force of the truck plowing into its side. The impact sent the Intrepid careening out of control, clipping a Chevy pickup waiting at a nearby stop sign.
Gregorius also lost control of the crane truck. Desperately trying to avoid oncoming traffic, he yanked the wheel to the right and overturned.
The driver of the Chevy, 54-year-old John Stewart of Jackson, was not injured. Gregorius suffered shoulder injuries but declined hospitalization. Castaldi was flown to the trauma center at Sutter Roseville Hospital with injuries to his ribs. Wise did not survive the accident.
Castaldi was arrested by the CHP on suspicion of driving under the influence of a controlled substance and then released, so he could receive medical treatment. Craig Harmon, commander of the Amador unit of the CHP, said the investigation against Castaldi was “ongoing” and that he expected to be filing charges with the Amador County District Attorney’s Office.