Atascadero woman injured in crash on the grade

February 22, 2019

An Atascadero woman survived with major injuries after crashing into the back of a big rig on the Cuesta Grade and getting her vehicle wedged under the truck. [Cal Coast Times]

Emergency personnel needed to extricate Shannon Schmidt, 44, from her SUV that was stuck under the big rig. Responders managed to free Schmidt, who was then hospitalized.

Schmidt was driving with her 9-year-old son in the vehicle at the time of the crash. Schmidt’s son only suffered moderate injuries but was taken to a hospital, as well.

The crash occurred at about 3 p.m., shortly after rain started pouring on the Cuesta Grade. Schmidt was driving southbound on Highway 101, and she changed lanes, moving into the slow lane in order to pass a slower vehicle.

Schmidt’s SUV then crashed into the back of a big rig being driven by a Santa Maria man. The truck driver emerged from the crash uninjured.

Following the crash, two of the three southbound lanes on the Cuesta Grade were blocked. Traffic backed up into North County.


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When traffic slows you will see “zippie cars” that don’t slow down and go zipping by you. Usually you never see them again or you might see them pulled over never or see them stuck under the back of a semi. Don’t know or care why they do it just keep an eye in the rear view mirror to avoid them zipping into you.

No doubt Schmidt is another one of the many SoCal transplants to the Central Coast who have brought with them their bad driving habits. No matter how fast traffic is moving, they always think they can get to their destination 1/2 second faster if they start passing people on the right. There is no real plausible excuse for “accidentally” ramming into the back of something as large as a semi truck. Fortunately she was the only one injured by her stupidity, and not the poor 9 y.o. who was born into the misfortune of having a dumb mother.

You may be right on a number of things, but your lack of empathy and callous choice of words for someone with “major injuries” is regretful. Or maybe it is just a childish comment from a “Child at Play”, eh?

You have EmPithy down pat though.

So road conditions changed and everyone slowed down except her which made it seem to her everyone was going too slow so she ducked around someone and into the lane where semi trucks are held to below 35 MPH and likely going slower due to current road conditions. The difference between her speed and the semis speed is the closing speed, likely just a split second between arriving in the lane and the impact.

I’ve got to wonder what could be so distracting that you plow into the back of a semi.

This was the result of poor judgement, and ill-advised/illegal maneuvering—thoughtless, careless, and mindless moves to make when you’re carrying precious cargo. Then again, the “blunt pass” style planning and execution that goes into CA’s civil engineering doesn’t offer much help, but that’s another story for another time.


You are certainly correct on all points. However, the sign to which you alluded, “Slow Traffic Keep Right” is in effect unenforceable. It forces enforcement to make a judgment call. A much more appropriate sign would be “Keep Right Except To Pass”. It would stop self-righteous speed-control drivers from camping in the left lane to force everyone else to drive one mph under the posted limit.