CHP makes text-messaging link to Foresthill Road double-fatal crash

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A California Highway Patrol investigation into a head-on collision March 17 on Foresthill Road that left two people dead is now pointing toward texting-while-driving as a probable factor in the crash. A spokesman for the Newcastle CHP office said Friday that while the incident report on the crash was nearing completion, the preliminary investigation had determined that text messaging was a factor. The CHP is releasing few details on the investigation but had said earlier that “driver inattention” was being considered as a cause. The report is nearing completion and will be forwarded to the Placer County District Attorney’s Office for possible prosecution, Officer David Martinez said. Bill A. Keller, 25, of Foresthill, was identified as the driver of a Mazda 626 LX that crossed over a double-yellow centerline into the oncoming eastbound traffic lanes on a bend in Foresthill Road about halfway between the mountain community and Auburn. Keller’s car collided head-on with a Honda Civic driven by Marla McArron, 73, of Davis. McArron and her passenger, Richard Tanner, 78, of Foresthill, were killed in the crash. Keller was seriously injured but survived. Online postings by McArron and Tanner family members after the crash on the Journal website stated Keller’s phone was recovered and indicated he had been text-messaging while driving when the accident occurred. While confirming for the first time the text-messaging link, Martinez said that details of the investigation were not being released at this time. The crash – which occurred at noon on St. Patrick’s Day – has spurred requests for new safety measures on the winding, 17-mile road to Foresthill. Placer County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery said she has heard from Foresthill Road drivers who would like to see rumble strips in the center and on the side of the roadway. The strips would give drivers of vehicles wandering over into an oncoming lane or off the road an audible warning. Montgomery said she has forwarded the requests to the county Public Works Department and they’ll look at costs and logistics of installing rumble strips.