CHP Releases Names in Fiery Crash on Hwy 101 on January 21

Fiery crash north of Rio Dell. [Photo by Lauren Johnson]

Fiery crash north of Rio Dell. [Photo by Lauren Johnson]

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has disclosed the identities of the individuals tragically killed in a fiery collision on January 21, on Hwy 101 north of Rio Dell. This announcement comes as part of an ongoing investigation into the fiery crash that resulted in the deaths of three people, including a local mother and her young daughter.

James Baker, 55, of Arcata, California, was identified as the driver who was traveling in the wrong direction on the highway. Baker was driving north in the southbound lanes of US 101 when his vehicle collided with the car driven by Christina Freitas, a Rio Dell resident, who was accompanied by her 9-year-old daughter, Neveah. All three individuals were pronounced dead at the scene.

The CHP provided a detailed account of the incident, noting that the Humboldt Communications Center received reports of a Toyota truck driving the wrong way on US 101 at around 10:37 p.m. on January 21, 2024. Shortly thereafter, at approximately 10:43 p.m., a head-on crash was reported in the southbound lanes of US 101 at Metropolitan Road. Both vehicles involved, a 2015 Toyota Tacoma and a 2010 Mercedes Benz C300, became fully engulfed in flames following the collision.

Upon arrival, emergency responders found the vehicles blocking the lanes and quickly determined that all occupants, including Baker, Freitas, and her daughter, had succumbed to their injuries.

The CHP are attempting to determine how and why Baker ended up driving the wrong way. The CHP has made a public appeal for information that could assist in the investigation, urging anyone with knowledge of the incident to contact them at (707) 822-5981.

Earlier:

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34 Comments
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Wow
Guest
Wow
17 days ago

Wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t get drunk at the bar prior to driving off

Gosh
Guest
Gosh
17 days ago
Reply to  Wow

Is that corroborated?

catitu2002
Member
catitu2002
17 days ago
Reply to  Gosh

If it is, someone needs to report the bar to ABC, so the bar workers can get a refresher on “when to stop serving drinkers”.

The bar owner should be sued in Civil Court for the family’s losses.

That will not bring relief to the family, but hopefully would send a message to bar owners in Humboldt to netter train its employees on “when to stop serving drunks”.

If the court award is high enough, it will send a message throughout the State.

THC
Member
THC
17 days ago
Reply to  catitu2002

Shit why not sue the car manufacturer, the brewery that made the alcohol or maby the farmer that grew the grain used to make the alcohol?

Lone Ranger
Guest
Lone Ranger
17 days ago
Reply to  catitu2002

Sue the state for having a center divider, the yota may have been able to cross to correct side prior to crashing. Maybe sue this guys employer for not recognizing his issues and getting him help,just plain dumb reasons as usual to sue. Only one responsible person here, Mr. Baker .

Heart
Guest
Heart
17 days ago
Reply to  catitu2002

R.I.P.

catitu2002-
“…. bar owner in Humboldt to NETTER train its employees” ??
Have you been drinking ?
Who served you ?
Should you be reported to the spelling (ABC) Police ?
Would suing you send you a message to help you remember to check your spelling ?

R.I.P.

Joe
Guest
Joe
17 days ago
Reply to  catitu2002

That’s a stupidest thing I’ve heard in a while. Last I checked bars were in the business of serving drinks

I am a robot
Guest
I am a robot
17 days ago
Reply to  Wow

Mingos?

Michael
Guest
Michael
17 days ago
Reply to  I am a robot

Guessing you’re completely right on that. It’s amazing that we can not consume legal cannabis and drive, but we can get shit face drunk to the point of taking human lives. A very fucked system. This is heartbreaking. Mingos, if this was your servers serving this person, I hope you pay out the ass and have to close.

Last edited 17 days ago
THC
Member
THC
17 days ago
Reply to  Michael

Actually it illegal to do ether one..

THC
Member
THC
17 days ago
Reply to  Wow

Wouldn’t of happened if he followed the law and didn’t drive. Maybe we should actually start punishing people for breaking the laws with real consequences. Just maybe that would detoure other people from breaking the law before killing innocent bystanders.

Last edited 17 days ago
HalfACenturianD
Member
HalfACenturian
17 days ago
Reply to  THC

Yes consequences and i know someone who in his 60s got his first DUI ever …likely age caught up with him and some denial. LE treated him way better than many people they harass (impoverished women in particular) but the laws were such that he didn’t get treated like a child after leaving the jail (where he sat and watched tv till he “sobered up”). Once away from LE’s discretion he paid fines, did community service and now walks and bikes and busses to his job cause he sold his car. There are consequences already in place…more consequences isn’t going to stop anyone. Ever since Mothers Against Drunk Driving raised hell there have been more substantial consequences for drunk driving. Meanwhile little to know mental health help or support for basic life stuff like family and work problems. AA has been around a long time and while it is cheap we as a community get what we pay for in terms of results when we leave public health to the least expensive least comprehensive and person -centered “Care”.
People been punishing others for wrong doing forever and while some people need to experience some toughness (limits, boundaries, entitlement checks, hard work etc.) many others are messed up from abuse (of more nefarious sorts than being spoiled ) and hard life experiences without support and care and there is no mental health help. Being on public assistance is also a nightmare regarding time, energy and you have to live at a poverty level that is absurd and dare you make any money your benefits are docked and so you can’t get leverage to get ahead a little and exit the sytem when no longer in abject poverty , including senior citizens aka elders we don’t seem to give a damn about. We don’t seem to care as a community that suicide rate is so high and climbing including among seniors and teens and then when f’d up people loose what is left of their minds we get all pissed off without looking in the mirror regarding our civil duties …every since “I want my MTV and chicks for free” era adults too many adults seem entitled to not participate in government, play video games, binge watch tv and have a bunch of hobbies, buy new cars every 5 years and buy new clothes every year and on and on and on.
But ok …go to Saudi Arabia and live there cause they are big on punishing as the way to deal with crime and mental health problems. Here we drug people and send them home and maybe lucky if they get to talk with a “Therapist” 50 min, children don’t have support unless born into a good enough family and run the streets. Therapists are basically strangers and there is no recourse if they mistreat a patient/client; mental health should be more accountable, team oriented and transparent….as is if poor may only be allowed to see the therapist a short time and then stop and/or the person has to start yet again with another therapist (the County is much like that ).

Last edited 17 days ago
THC
Member
THC
16 days ago
Reply to  HalfACenturian

That’s if they’re charged with Subsequential DUIs. Point in fact, the guy who hit the elderly gentleman in Richarson Grove last summer should have had 2 prior DUI’s but they we’re Plea bargained down in court. Or what about Tyson the ranger who was iconically pictured passed out on the Avenue of the giants with a Keystone beer between his legs and a fifth of vodka on the floorboard, who then continued drinking and driving for years until he almost killed an entire family crippling a young girl for life. Or kitchens who killed 2 girls driving drunk and served less then 2 years Examples like this just go on and on on.

MobiusCrash
Guest
MobiusCrash
17 days ago

I also can entertain the possibility that Mr Baker was sitting at a bar for a couple hours, drinking to excess, to the point where his ability to make reasonable/rational decisions had been greatly diminished. However, I’m not privy to such information as to provide evidence that this scenario actually occurred. The question that police might be trying to answer is, did Mr Baker intend to harm himself (and others) prior to arriving at the bar? If there is evidence of this, do you think the bar would need to be accountable simply for serving him? Complicated matters but we should trust the investigators to uncover the evidence that will shed light on this terrible tragedy.

RD Native
Guest
RD Native
17 days ago

Do we know that the guilty driver actually came from Mingos in Rio Dell? Or is the public just going along with the assumption of such because it is the nearest bar? For all we know, he could have been coming from the Scotia Lodge, the local Shell station with a 40 oz., anywhere besides a bar in Rio Dell. I know there were some rumors about a “Glen” that may or may not have been at that bar in Rio Dell. So a few questions: again, do we know if this James (suspect) was actually seen/served at Mingos? Are James and “Glen” the same person? Was the guilty driver intoxicated? I went to school with the adult victim and this is a tragedy. But should the blogging/commenting public be dragging a business’ name through the mud without concrete proof? If I am wrong, let me know.

Rio Dell resident
Guest
Rio Dell resident
17 days ago

I’ve seen a few comments saying he was doing donuts in front of Mingos and someone had already called the police about him prior to him getting on the freeway in Scotia, driving the wrong way. There should be documentation of such calls, if they were made. Maybe even video of this from Grundmans possibly? All speculation without proof at this point. But people know. They just need to come forward. Do the right thing, even if it hurts.

Vinny Veyron
Guest
Vinny Veyron
17 days ago

If that was true, he was on the freeway in the wrong lane for miles and miles, and would have included a stretch on the wrong bridge! It seems more likely, that wherever he started out that evening, he might have pulled out from one of the access roads that join the freeway in the area. There’s a couple farm roads on the west side, and from the old mill zone, and farms on the east side as well. I didn’t go back and re-read the first article, but I think a witness saw him pull onto the freeway in the wrong direction from somewhere much closer than Rio Dell proper.

Omnomnonimous
Guest
Omnomnonimous
16 days ago
Reply to  Vinny Veyron

The CHP call log makes it pretty clear he got on the highway in Scotia.

wrong-way
Wait2Judge
Guest
Wait2Judge
14 days ago

The individual doing donuts was found at home after the accident occurred. Definitely not the same person. Though, I think they should have been cited as well. There are homes with kids in that area. What a jerk.

Mendocino Mamma
Guest
Mendocino Mamma
17 days ago

The number one reason that people are in the booking logs in any County DUI, driving while intoxicated, driving under the influence. Seems like this probably was not his first rodeo. Auto manufacturers should have a mandatory breathalyzer for alcohol intoxication and an automatic kill switch to be able to shut the car off. There are far more of us that don’t drive under the influence then do, yet, the ones that drive under the influence cause all the damage and death. Be proactive auto manufacturers save some lives. Too many consume a pitcher of margaritas with dinner and drive home. RIP mamma I pray you and your daughter did not suffer. 💔

SaPaMa
Guest
SaPaMa
17 days ago

Corner of Monument and Wildwood where Mingo’s is located has people pouring out of that bar very intoxicated all the time and most hop in their cars and drive away. Donuts are a common thing as they leave. I have been watching this for a couple years now as a resident. If this was the bar (innocent until proven), the authorities should come down so hard that it changes the likelihood of them ever over serving again.

Friendly boo
Guest
Friendly boo
17 days ago

This is a huge tragedy. We don’t have all the information yet. Hope peace can be with all families hurt by this accident

NoGovernment
Guest
NoGovernment
17 days ago

In the silence of the asphalt, tragedy unfurls,
A tale of wheels in motion, a fate that swirls.
On the winding road, where destinies collide,
A driving accident, in sorrow, we confide.

Beneath the moon’s lament, a tale of three,
Their journey halted, by fate’s decree.
Steel and glass entwined in a dance so grim,
A collision of paths, destinies grown dim.

Three souls departed, on that fateful night,
A symphony of sorrow, a tragic plight.
Echoes of their laughter, now silent and still,
The highway bears witness, to a heart-wrenching chill.

HalfACenturianD
Member
HalfACenturian
17 days ago
Reply to  NoGovernment

Lovely and with out government we’d not have decent road ways, any protections nor rescue nor clean up from situations such as these. Poetry rather than politics may be your strong suit.

Christopher Christianson
Guest
Christopher Christianson
17 days ago

This is incredibly sad and hard to think about. I hope everyone is in a better place.

Mada N
Guest
Mada N
16 days ago

Nice photo of a nine year old girls dead body being burnt to a crisp.

Martin
Guest
Martin
16 days ago

I think there has been too many photos showing the burning vehicles and too much coverage. We know these poor folks were all killed and burned. I am very sorry they perished in the accident, but enough is enough.

Martin
Guest
Martin
16 days ago
Reply to  Kym Kemp

Kim, information is fine, but the pictures are not necessary unless you like crispy people!

Martin
Guest
Martin
16 days ago
Reply to  Kym Kemp

Kim, are you telling me that you can’t picture a burned to death person? I find that pretty hard to swallow. I have seen more than my fair share from Vietnam and pictures of people burned to death or close to it after we bombed Japan. It makes me sick to my stomach. If you have viewed any war pictures like I mentioned, I bet you would be sick also. I mean no harm to you Kim, I am just trying to get my point across. Thanks for reading.

Martin
Guest
Martin
15 days ago
Reply to  Kym Kemp

Yes, I have had some hard life experiences with death up close from Vietnam and it will haunt me forever. I remember the little girl burned by napalm running down the road with pieces of skin falling off her body. Those things really affect my life, and I don’t seem to be able to get over them. Thanks for your answer, Kim. You and I just look at these things from a different view. No need to reply as I will try my best to skip over articles like this. I do appreciate your kind and understanding replies.