Eight Placer High students involved in rollover accident

Crash occurred on Interstate 80 during lunch
By: Amber Marra, Journal Staff Writer
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Eight Placer High School students, including some athletes, were in a rollover crash on Interstate 80 Friday afternoon.

Six of the eight students were taken to area hospitals following the crash, which occurred at 12:50 p.m. near the Elm Avenue exit on eastbound Interstate 80, according to a press release by the California Highway Patrol.

The crash occurred when a white 2013 Freightliner tractor-trailer driven by Michael Jenson, 40, of Moorehead, Minn., was passing an on-ramp from Highway 49 near Auburn. At the same time, a 17-year-old girl, who is not being identified in the release because of her age, was driving onto eastbound Interstate 80 in a 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer with seven passengers.

The California Highway Patrol is still investigating why the driver of the Trailblazer failed to maintain control of the vehicle when it hit the right side of the tractor-trailer. The SUV then hit the guardrail to the right of the interstate and overturned, according to the press release.

Two of the eight passengers in the Trailblazer were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident. One of those passengers, a boy, was partially ejected and was flown to Sutter Roseville Medical Center via Calstar for treatment of major injuries.

All four lanes of Interstate 80 were closed while the boy was flown out, according to the press release. Lanes were partially closed until 2:48 p.m.

The girl that was driving the car suffered "minor lacerations" and was taken to Sutter Roseville Medical Center via ambulance with three other passengers, according to the press release. Two other passengers were taken to Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital with minor injuries.

The two remaining passengers were treated at the scene and did not require transport. Jenson did not sustain any injuries.

At the scene of the crash, a bloody book bag thrown from the car sat smeared in the road and CDs littered the area. A Placer High School athletic bag could be seen in the back of the flipped vehicle.

Placer High School assistant principals were also at the scene Friday afternoon but could not comment on what had happened.

Robin Montgomery, spokesperson for Sutter Roseville Medical Center, confirmed that Andrew Carducci, a Placer High School student, was flown to Sutter Roseville Friday afternoon and was listed in critical condition.

She also said Placer students Anna Rea, Kelsey Robinson and Nikolai Figueroa were all also taken to Sutter Roseville and were treated and released on Friday.

Montgomery listed Brea Wallace and Regan Decker, both Placer High students, at Sutter Auburn Faith Medical Center. Both girls were treated and released Friday afternoon.

Placer High Soccer Coach Dave Brown said Carducci was at the hospital Friday evening. Carducci plays varsity soccer at Placer High.

"I think he's pretty lucky. He's got a fractured skull and a severe concussion," Brown said. "They're doing observations and testing, but as far as we can tell he's going to be OK."

Brown said two other soccer players, Adam Norcott and Gavin Royce, were in the vehicle at the time of the accident, but they were treated and released.

The Placer High soccer team's game against Antelope High School on Friday was canceled after the accident. Brown was unsure if any further games would be canceled, but said he thought Carducci would be out for the rest of the year.

Figueroa is also a varsity soccer player and at least two of the girls in the crash were Placer High School cheerleaders.

A somber announcement came to the Placer High campus Friday afternoon as Principal Peter Efstathiu let his students, faculty and staff know that there had been an accident and that counselors were ready to talk to any students in need.

Students across campus could be seen hugging and consoling each other after school was dismissed.

Kiera Jordan, 14, sported her Goldmine T-shirt and Placer High green and gold for the first home football game on Friday. Jordan tearfully hugged her friend, Claire Brown, 14, when she heard about the accident.

"I'm good, it was just really freaky at first because I didn't know what happened," Jordan said.

Brown and Jordan said they're both friends with Royce and had not heard any of the details Friday afternoon.

"We just heard right now and it's so scary, not knowing what is going on," Brown said.

Placer High School enforces an open campus policy during lunch that allows students to go off campus. Lunch usually lasts 30 minutes, but on Fridays when there is a home football game; lunch is extended to 45 minutes.

Friday was Placer High's home opener against Casa Roble High School. Jackson Tate, a 15-year-old junior varsity football player, felt that the accident darkened the outlook for the first game of the season.

"We're playing for them tonight," Tate said.

Contact Amber Marra at Follow her on Twitter @Amber_AJNews.
Matthew Kimel contributed to this report.