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Deadly Highway 17 Laurel Curve to Get Temporary Concrete Barrier

Caltrans plans to install median concrete protector on Thursday, work may take a couple of days to complete.

, Caltrans officials announced Tuesday that they will begin installing a temporary concrete median barrier along the deadly section of the roadway on Thursday.

Caltrans traffic safety officials will then evaluate the effectiveness of the barrier in reducing accidents and further study other safety improvements at what is commonly called Laurel Curve, a windy and dangerous section of the highway that is often driven by motorists beyond its 55 mph limit.

The Laurel Road exit where the deadly crash occurred Friday is located north of Scotts Valley and about 12 miles south of Los Gatos' main entrance to the freeway.

In addition, Caltrans officials said they plan to install experimental high-friction pavement treatment to the highway's surface in that location along with warning signs at Laurel Curve.

The sharp curve is considered the bloodiest of the two-lane treacherous highway. According to CHP data, the prevalence of crashes in this section, which takes motorist from Santa Cruz to Los Gatos, is one of the highest.

Department of Transportation spokeswoman Susan Cruz asked for motorists to drive carefully along the Highway 17 corridor, especially during the remaining weeks of the wet weather season.

Friday's crash was reported at 10:43 a.m., north of Scotts Valley.

The victim, identified as 57-year-old Gerard Wener, of Brentwood, was driving south in a gray 2005 Nissan Altima when he lost control and crossed into northbound traffic, according to the CHP.

The Nissan struck the side of a Chevrolet Suburban and spun around, then hit the front of a Toyota 4Runner, occupied by Scotts Valley residents Matthew and Gretchen Clark and their 5-year-old child, CHP officials said.

The 4Runner then collided with the side of an Acura Integra.

Wener was pronounced dead at the scene, and the Clark family was taken to Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz.

The occupants of the Chevrolet and the Acura were not injured.

The crash shut down northbound Highway 17 and one southbound lane for about three hours.

The CHP is still investigating what caused Wener to lose control but reminded motorists to slow down in inclement weather.

—Bay City News Service contributed to this report

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