UPDATE: Highway crash victim identified
Yuba accident involves 3 vehicles
One driver died and another was injured in a violent, three-car accident that closed a Yuba County highway Christmas night.
The person killed has been identified by the California Highway Patrol as 51-year-old Debra Stafford of Olivehurst.
The crash happened at about 5:25 p.m. on Highway 70, just south of Silva Avenue in District 10.
The wrecks of two sedans and a minivan were strewn across the two-lane highway, blocking traffic in both directions north of Marysville.
The California Highway Patrol said a Geo Prizm driven by Stafford was northbound on Highway 70 when it crossed into the southbound lane and sideswiped a Ford Freestar minivan driven by Hector Rodriguez, 47, of Rancho Cordova.
The Geo Prizm then lost control and spun into the path of a Toyota Camry driven by Christina Horton, 38, of Antelope, who was following the Rodriguez vehicle.
The Geo Prizm and the Toyota collided head-on.
In the crash, the engine from the Geo Prizm was thrown clear and ended off the road.
Stafford was thrown from the vehicle and suffered fatal head injuries
Horton was freed from her vehicle by firefighters and taken to Rideout Memorial Hospital. The CHP said she suffered a broken right ankle.
The three people in the Ford van weren't injured.
The collision smashed the rear and left sides of their vehicle, but the occupants were spared serious harm and were able to talk to officers immediately afterward.
In its report, the CHP noted there were "indications of drug activity" in Stafford's car.
Officer Mike Berndl said illegal drugs and prescription drugs were found in the vehicle.
He said further investigation is required to determine if drugs played a role in the accident.
"Nothing gets solved overnight," Berndl said.
Holiday traffic began to back up as CHP officers responded to the crash scene, where the Toyota Camry's roof was completely peeled away and the Geo Prizm's front end was sheared off.
Contact Appeal-Democrat reporter Howard Yune at 749-4708 or email@example.com.