A 26-year-old Santa Cruz man's preoccupation with his radio ultimately sent him via medical helicopter to a Bay Area trauma center on Thursday morning.
At 7:52 a.m., the man was driving his 1991 black pick-up truck northbound on Highway 1 just south of Mar Monte Boulevard. He looked down at his radio and didn't see that traffic had slowed in front of him, sending him slamming into a box van driven by a 56-year-old Watsonville man.
According to CHP Officer Sarah Jackson, the box van was pushed into the left lane where it hit a 1999 Chevrolet pick-up truck driven by a 36-year-old Watsonville woman, which was forced into the guard rail.
The distracted driver's truck rolled with the driver inside, coming to a stop in the left lane. He was flown to a hospital with unknown injuries. The two other drivers were uninjured, Jackson said but a tow truck had to be called to remove the van, which was inoperable.
The road was cleared by 8:43, Jackson said.
"It was a horrible time to have a lane blocked in rush hour traffic," Jackson said. "We do try to get the road cleared as fast as possible, however when there are significant injuries, that has to take priority. We also had to wait for the tow truck, which is stuck in the same traffic as everyone else."
When it comes to distracted driving, Jackson said many people think only of cell phone use and not the radio.
"It's still taking your eyes off the road, which is always dangerous," she said.