NAPA COUNTY (CBS SF) — The Napa County Sheriff’s Office has identified the driver who died when a mudslide swept his vehicle down an embankment and into a tree off state Highway 121 Tuesday evening as Hernan Reyes-Aguires, 22, of Fairfield.
Reyes-Aguires was on his way home from visiting family in Napa when a boulder weighing several tons struck the driver’s side of his vehicle and knocked it around 100 feet down an embankment, Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Blower said.
Officials said rocks tumbled 600 feet before hitting the vehicle. The accident happened at about 5 p.m. Tuesday evening.
The slide occurred on State Highway 121 (also known as Monticello Road) between Wild Horse Valley Road and Wooden Valley Road, Blower said.
The location is near the Atlas Fire burn zone.
Reyes-Aguires was pronounced dead at the scene. He remained in the vehicle overnight because the slide area was too unstable to free him or raise the vehicle up the embankment, Blower said.
Caltrans was out Wednesday looking for other risky roads.
Last winter’s storms and this fall’s fires have kept Napa County and Caltrans crews busy working to shore things up.
“We’ve actually done a lot of work in the area after the fires doing preventative measures. That includes rock-slide prevention, hydro-seeding the hillsides and removing some of the dead trees,” said Vince Jacala with Caltrans.
Infrared scans of the slide area showed it was too unstable, so crews had to wait until Wednesday morning to begin their recovery effort.
Napa County officials say crews started work on slides areas like this one from last year’s rains, but then the Wine Country fires hit on October 13 and took up time for nearly two months. Crews were working seven days a week on fire-related issues during that time. They are just now getting back to stabilizing hillsides at risk of slides.
It’s an uphill battle, especially considering the quantity of rain that fell since the weekend. In Napa County, there have been three slides in the last few days.
“They repaired this last week, last Friday. And by Sunday, it was already coming down,” said Napa County resident Ed Crespo.
By around mid-morning Wednesday, crews were able to work on recovering the vehicle and clearing the road in daylight. Highway 121 was closed until around 1 p.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.