[UPDATE 2:13 p.m.: Road Open] Fiery Fatal Accident Closes 101 South of Willits; No Estimated Time of Reopening


Photo courtesy of Brian Lindeman and MendocinoSportsPlus.

A multi-vehicle traffic collision that occurred about 11:20 a.m. has closed Hwy 101 south of Willits with no estimated time of reopening. Multiple vehicles were involved in a fiery crash north of the CalFire Howard Forest station.

We’ll update as soon as possible.

UPDATE 1:05 p.m.: More photos from the scene provided by Mendocino SportsPlus.

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UPDATE 2 p.m.: The California Highway Patrol Incident page reports, “…RDWY OPEN IN 30 MIN OR SO/ TRAFFIC BACKED UP TO MM 38 ON GRADE.”

UPDATE 2:13 p.m.: Caltrans reports, “The road is open in both directions. Still, expect slowdowns and please proceed with caution while traveling in the area.”

UPDATE 4:51 p.m.: Caltrans uploaded these photos to their Facebook page,

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  • Getting safely over this grade is a crap shoot, and has been forever – probably for the Stage Coaches, too. This grade should be the CalTrans Gravy-Train, NOT the Willits’ “by-pass.” af

  • I have family traveling that way that would have been in that area around that time and I am not able to reach any of them on there phones. Please I need to know if there is any other info. in regards to this accident.

    • I’m so sorry. The road is still blocked and trying to gather information is difficult but I will continue trying.

    • There is little to no cell reception in the area south of this crash, almost down to Redwood Valley exit. If they are stuck in traffic waiting for the road to re-open and they are in that area they may not have reception. So please take a deep breath and have patience.

    • I know it’s hard but remember, worrying is praying for something you don’t want.
      If you can, try to envision your loved ones driving safely and arriving safely.
      Not telling ya what to do just some things I’ve learned, if something bad has happened, knowing sooner will not change it 🙁
      Best to all and please slow down out there

  • Have they released the names of the people involved yet?

  • So awful I’m praying for all involved.the roads are so slick and lots of water building up.drive safely

  • CHP saying highway will be closed for cleanup and repairs till midnight
    so far KYM has all the latest info i can find , they not broadcasting names over scanner , i have that turned on

  • According to Mendo SportsPlus:
    10 mins ·
    MSP just heard scanner traffic (1:02 pm) they may be reopening US-101 in 30 minutes. Although, in the same dispatch they said they may temporarily close the soutbound lane to escort a tow truck en route for the semi & trailer. In any event, if you can avoid this area, do so.
    At 1:10 pm, scanner traffic said they plan to have one-lane traffic control “in 15 minutes.”

  • 1:52 traffic at a stand still heading south.

  • Reanna Boughner

    I am stuck in this and they said the road will be opening in 10 to 15 minutes

    • Thank you for the update. If you have someone who can safely take pictures as you travel through, we would all appreciate a better understanding.

  • It seems everyone wants to find the victims names on the Internet, until they find out it’s their loved ones, then they are upset they found out about it first on the Internet. 😏

  • caltrans quickmap just changed their closure time from midnight to 2:30 pm
    after they opened the road
    at least its moving again

  • Is that a legal weight for a semi on this stretch of the 101?
    Sounds like a super scary incident especially in the rain, best to all the families involved

  • If you are concerned about your family. You might try calling the Mendocino CHP let them know who u are and who your looking for. Please do not call 911 , call the office . You might want to call the Mendocino Sherriff ‘s Dept. prayers to all the families involved.

  • LeAnna Carson-Hansen

    Having traveled the grade many times over the last three decades I have seen more reckless driving with folks on their cell phones. Inattention and driving too fast for conditions means you are at more risk for causing accidents. Prayers up for all the first responders and EMT/LEO’s. Such a hard job to work fatality accidents. Hope you are able to update this when you are able to. And thankyou to the posters who gave sound advice to the worried relative.

    • Good information. Thank you!

    • Thank you for the link!
      I was wondering if it was someone trying to pass what was most likely a slower vehicle. That’s happened to me there when someone needed to go way faster than me. Those zones are marked those speeds for a reason.

      I have been seeing that driving everywhere and it sux for the people those drivers injure.
      On 8 lane highways in LA it’s still scary but most freeways there are relatively non-curvy, besides the 110. I saw that style of driving everywhere in LA when visiting. It doesn’t fly here. A few days ago someone almost clipped two cars on the safety corridor doing 70, weaving in and out.
      I don’t like to call the cops but perhaps reporting these drivers could save some lives. I would prefer the chp focus on that rather than car searches.
      And if you can’t adapt to the bit of slower pace here then go back to where you came from. It may take a lil longer to drive but the landscape is beautiful so take your time.

    • Excellent coverage by the press Democrat but nasty comments. Avoid them.

  • Prayers to all involved in this horrible accident 🙁

  • The report from the CHP’s Ukiah area office said that the crash involved five vehicles: a 2003 Mazda, driven by the man who died; a 2008 Ford driven by 44-year-old Kenneth Walters of Eureka; a 2013 Ford driven by 36-year-old Joseph Aldridge of Lakeport; a 2011 Chevy driven by 18-year-old Michael Dillwood of Windsor; and a 2014 Freightliner driven by Citrus Heights resident Jeffrey Smith, 57. the man who died was from willits

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