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Posted: Tuesday, October 31, 2006 10:00 pm

Big rig crash closes Highway 12 for 4 hours

Eastbound Highway east of Terminous 12 was closed for four hours Tuesday after three big rigs collided in the fog and one spilled a load of corn.

It was the first collision of the season during fog, and a California Highway Patrol spokesman advised motorists to beware of more fog as winter approaches.

The crash happened at 7:41 a.m. when Alirio B. Lopez, 57, of Fairfield, pulled out of a farm and began heading east in a 2001 Volvo tractor trailer filled with corn.

A second eastbound driver, Brian Crowell, 48, of Modesto, had stopped his 1997 Peterbilt truck to allow the corn truck to pull out, CHP Officer Adrian Quintero said. There is no stop sign or traffic signal in that area.

Fog prevented a third big rig, driven by Lathrop resident Federico Serrano, 48, from seeing the stopped truck until it was too late, Quintero said. Serrano swerved to the right to avoid the truck, but his 1999 Freightliner filled with wine collided with the corn truck.

Lopez, the corn truck driver, was taken by ambulance to Dameron Hospital with chest pain, a laceration on his head and a fractured foot, Quintero said. Federico complained of pain but declined medical treatment.

Traffic was directed to highways 4 or 120, and the road did not fully reopen until 12:19 p.m.

Police say Hansen at fault in collision

Lodi Police have determined that Councilman Larry Hansen was at fault in a minor-injury collision Friday afternoon.

Hansen was on his way to turn in campaign disclosure forms and turned west onto Pine Street from Church Street, Lodi Police said. His pick-up truck collided with a southbound Pontiac Grand Am, which had the right-of-way, police said.

Neither vehicle was speeding, Motor Officer Hans Van Noord said, and both vehicles were towed.

Both drivers complained of pain, though Hansen declined medical treatment. The other driver was treated and released from Lodi Memorial Hospital.

Hansen, who retired as police chief in 2000 after 30 years with the department, acknowledged at the scene that he was at fault, Van Noord said.

Two injured, 3 vehicles towed in Lodi crash

An elderly woman and her grandson were hospitalized Tuesday after three vehicles collided in a Lodi intersection.

The 1:30 p.m. crash temporarily snarled traffic at Church and Lockeford streets until all three vehicles were towed.

The collision happened when William Harvey Johnson, 72, of Walnut Grove, was driving his white 1987 Ford pick-up truck west on Lockeford Street after getting the brakes repaired in an auto shop.

He collided with a northbound red 1998 Cadillac, driven by Jonathan Castelanelli, of Lodi, and pushed the car across the intersection. The Cadillac came to a stop after hitting a southbound 2004 Chevrolet Tahoe that was about to continue through a green light, Lodi Police and witnesses said.

Airbags deployed in the Cadillac, and Castelanelli's passenger, 85-year-old Georgette Castelanelli, was trapped inside the vehicle. Lodi firefighters cut the door off, and both she and her grandson were taken to Lodi Memorial Hospital by ambulance.

As of press time, John Castelanelli was listed in good condition and Georgette Castelanelli was listed in critical condition, according to a hospital supervisor.

Neither Johnson nor his dog were injured. He said his light was yellow, though the other drivers said their light had already turned green.

The Tahoe driver, Betsy Heinrich, 45, of Lodi, was also not injured.

Water quality to improve

Thornton's 800 residents are expected to have better tasting water, and firefighters will have more water to battle blazes by reconfiguring one of the town's two wells, installing underground water lines and constructing a 140,000-gallon storage tank with booster pumps.

The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday to purchase land at the southwest corner of Thornton Road and Mokelumne Avenue to accommodate the project.

The project is planned because both of Thornton's wells have poor water quality, although they are not considered a health risk, county Public Works Director Tom Flinn wrote in a staff report.

The water contains high levels of manganese, which results in discoloration, tinting and taste problems, Flinn said. Additionally, the water system doesn't provide adequate fire-flow capacity, he said.

The county will pay $150,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds to buy and the land and for closing costs. The storage tank project will cost an estimated $1.3 million.

Supervisors adopt ag preservation ordinance

The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday on a complex ordinance to require compensation for farmland lost to housing and commercial development. Final adoption is set for the Nov. 14 board meeting, when supervisors will be allowed to make changes to the ordinance.

After a four-hour public hearing, supervisors tentatively decided to require developers to pay $8,675 per acre if the development is 40 acres or less. For subdivisions more than 40 acres, developers must donate acre of agricultural land for every acre developed.

A committee consisting of three members of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation and three from the Building Industry Association will be allowed to recommend refining the ordinance, but any recommendations must come with a two-thirds majority of the committee.

"The county is leading the way to what we think the cities should be doing," Supervisor Jack Sieglock of Lodi said after the meeting.

Supervisor Victor Mow voted against the ordinance.

First published: Wednesday, November 1, 2006

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