One killed, three injured in crash near Paso Robles truck stop

October 3, 2016

ambulance 4A 50-year-old Visalia man died and three other people were injured in a crash Friday night at the intersection of Highway 101 and Wellsona Road north of Paso Robles. The crash was the second fatal collision at the intersection this year, and the third deadly crash at the location in the last two years.

On Friday shortly before 9 p.m., a Honda Accord was headed northbound on Highway 101 when it collided with a Chevrolet sedan that was turning onto the highway.

A Templeton CHP officer on patrol arrived at the scene of the crash while there was still dust from the accident in the air. The officer found two men inside the Honda Accord. One of the men had suffered major injuries, and the other had sustained minor injuries.

Inside the Chevrolet Cobalt sedan, the officer discovered one passenger who had suffered major injuries and the driver who was non-responsive.

Emergency personnel performed CPR on the driver, Van Hugh Needham, until an ambulance arrived. Needham was later pronounced dead.

The passenger in the Chevy, Sherry Champagne, 55, of Visalia, suffered a broken pelvis. She was transported to Twin Cities Community Hospital.

Both the driver and passenger in the Honda were taken to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center. The driver, Alejo Alegre, 61, of Chualar, complained of chest and back pain. The passenger in the Honda, Valentino Alegre, 62, of salinas, suffered a broken wrist and back pain.

CHP officers have yet to determine the cause of the crash. Alejo Alegre said he had been traveling northbound at about 70 mph in the number one lane when the Chevrolet entered Highway 101 from the east side of the intersection at Wellsona Road. Champagne said Needham came to a stop and pulled out into the northbound lanes of the highway just before the collision occurred.

An investigation into the collision is ongoing. Investigators have not ruled out alcohol as a potential factor in the crash.

Located near a truck stop, the last two fatal collisions near this intersection have involved big-rigs.

In 2014, four San Miguel residents died in a Christmas Eve crash that occurred on Highway 101 by the Wellsona Road truck stop. That accident involved a minivan and a semi-truck.

This June, a San Luis Obispo woman died in a crash near the truck stop in which a Saab collided with a semi-truck.


Patience! How about a flashing light?


There is a flashing light on the southbound side.


Yet another reminder to slow down! I drive this nearly every day and my so does my husband. We always watch our downhill speed and are very cognisant of the vehicles around us. However, there have still been many times that vehicles pull right out in the intersection or try cross when there isn’t enough time. An overpass seems unlikely and there’s already a flashing light. I don’t know what the right answer is but I think it’s safe to say it starts with slowing down.


In our residential neighborhood, the posted speed limit is 25mph. An estimated 75% of drivers are exceeding that “safe and sane” limit by at least 10mph. In that same 75%, probably 30% could be clocked at 40+mph.

Many drivers will not slow down. It’s pedal to the metal on the highways and in residential zones. Spike strips perhaps?