Auburn woman in I-80 fatal crash Sunday identified

By: Gus Thomson/Journal Staff Writer
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Authorities released the name Monday of an Auburn woman who died in a crash Sunday afternoon on Interstate 80 west of the Newcastle off ramp. Amy Kathleen Keith, 33, was pronounced dead at the scene after the Honda Civic she was driving traveled onto the shoulder of westbound I-80, clipped the rear of a freeway service truck and then careered into a truck about to be hoisted onto a tow vehicle. Keith’s vehicle came to rest after hitting the parked truck with its driver’s side door. Both tow trucks were parked on the side of the freeway to aid a third vehicle. Neither of the tow-truck drivers were injured but a 4-year-old boy in a car seat in the center-rear passenger seat of the Honda was flown by helicopter to U.C. Davis Medical Center in Sacramento with minor to moderate injuries, California Highway Patrol Officer David Martinez said Monday. The Highway Patrol reported that Keith was not wearing a seatbelt and dispatch had received calls from witnesses saying a vehicle matching the one she was driving had been seen driving erratically before the crash on Interstate 80. The cause of the accident is under investigation, Martinez said. James Connor, the 38-year-old driver of the freeway service tow truck, was standing outside the vehicle when he saw the car leave the road and guarded himself from being injured by staying on the passenger side.Scott Sasser, 30, of All-American Towing in Auburn, was also not injured in the collision, Martinez said. Sasser said that he had hitched the disabled truck to the back of his tow truck 30 seconds before the car collided with it and was working on the winch at the side of his tow truck. Keith was unresponsive after impact had knocked her into the passenger’s seat so Sasser said he concentrated on keeping the boy – Keith’s son – stabilized and safe until paramedics arrived. “He was out of his seat and wrapped up like a pretzel,” Sasser said. “I kept talking and looking at him to comfort him. I have a kid the same age.” At the same time, Sasser said he was contacting 9-1-1 and preventing the boy from moving. “I had to keep his legs from being cut further by the broken glass and keep him from moving his neck,” Sasser said. The identity of the 4-year-old boy was not released by the CHP, citing his age. Highway Patrol Officer Mike Spitzer said the boy was alert after the accident “with a few scratches” and flown to the hospital as a precautionary measure. The heavy flow of westbound traffic was backed up to the Maple Street off ramp in Auburn after the collision, which took place at about 3 p.m. Two inside lanes were reopened after a 10-minute period when the CALSTAR helicopter landed. All three lanes of traffic on westbound 80 were reopened by about 5:20 p.m. According to the CHP, the woman’s car was traveling at about 65 mph – the posted speed limit on the freeway.