Four men in their early 20s were killed when the Ford Tempo they were traveling in crossed the center divide about a quarter mile north of the Contra Costa County line and collided with a southbound Ford Expedition in a "T-bone" collision, said California Highway Patrol Officer Scott Yox.
A third vehicle, also southbound, was thrown into a roll after trying to veer out of the way of the two vehicles (each which had spun around, finishing nose-to-nose in the southbound lane).
"It appears that it (Ford Explorer) tried to swerve around the collision to the right," said Yox. The 40-year-old Oakley woman driver "hit the curb as she was trying to take evasive action. That's what made her roll."
Both the 49-year-old woman driving the Expedition, also from Oakley, and the Explorer's driver incurred injuries and were airlifted to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek for treatment.
Yox said that the Expedition's driver had minor injuries and some chest pain, but the Explorer driver's injuries were more serious.
"She at last word will lose a few fingers," said Yox.
The four men, all residents of Hayward, were on their way to work at a construction site in Brentwood when their vehicle crossed over the double yellow center divide consisting of delineators and rumble strips and crashed into the Ford Expedition, ending their lives at 7:40 a.m. Pending family notification, the men's identities were not available at press time.
While still under investigation, "It appears that they (the four men) lost control, because their vehicle was broadsided," said Yox.
Speed could also have played a part in the northbound car losing control.
"Some of the witnesses' estimates (of the Ford Tempo's speed) were at about 65 to 70 miles per hour," said Yox.
Since 2000, Yox said, there have been 16 Vasco Road fatalities on the Contra Costa County side. He could not comment on the number of fatalities on the Alameda County side.
In 1995, 13 of Vasco Road's 18 miles were rebuilt, from Brentwood south toward Interstate 580, providing commuters with a wider roadway, passing lanes and a straighter route than the previous deteriorating Vasco Road that wound its way through the area that Los Vaqueros Reservoir now occupies.
While significant improvements were made, Vasco Road currently absorbs between 19,000 to 24,000 cars daily, up from a reported 16,000 in 1996 and 18,000 in 1997.
A four-fatality accident resulted in the all-day closure of Vasco Road.
But not all of the those cars are leaving Contra Costa County, said Brentwood City Councilwoman Annette Beckstrand, who also sits on the Vasco Road Advisory Task Force. "There is undeniably a reverse commute."
Of the nine Vasco Road fatalities over the last two years, Beckstrand said, "Eight fatalities have been Alameda residents commuting over Vasco Road to their jobs (in Contra Costa County)."
While the Vasco task force - with funding from the Contra Costa Transportation Improvement Authority (made up of the cities of Brentwood, Antioch and Oakley, plus the county) and Office of Traffic Safety grants - has made great strides in improving safety through the installation of delineators, rumble strips, electronic speed feedback panels, and "Passing lane ahead," "No passing," and Vasco Road Safety Corridor signs, it is not enough, according to Beckstrand. She believes the key is for Alameda County, Livermore and the Contra Costa County Vasco Road shareholders to come together to form a pact to create a safer roadway.
"We think every loss of life is tragic," said Alameda Supervisor Scott Haggerty. "And we are going to put our money where our mouth is."
But Haggerty also fears, "As soon as we improve that road, I'm scared that we're going to see the horrific accidents that we're seeing on the Contra Costa side."