Leggett man killed in crash north of Benbow on Highway 101

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BENBOW- A motorist is killed on Highway 101 north of Benbow after colliding head-on with a big rig on Monday morning.  

Just before 10:20 a.m., a southbound Mercury Mountaineer SUV, driven by 47-year-old Leggett man Steven Ray Castillo, drifted onto the northbound lanes just north of Exit 636. Meanwhile, 49-year-old Sacramento resident Cynthia Valencia was driving a freightliner semi-truck northbound. She tried to avoid the collision, but was unsuccessful. The two vehicles then caught fire and multiple agencies responded to extinguish the blaze. Both drivers were transported to Jerold Phelps Community Hospital in Garberville. Valencia was not hurt, but Castillo was pronounced dead upon arrival to the hospital. Authorities are investigating whether or not Castillo was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

"The big rig driver was traveling northbound and observed the SUV driver coming into her lane and noticed the driver was on his cell phone as he was crossing traffic and ultimately collided with her.  And this is just another example of the importance of not being a distracted driver and these are the kinds of things that can happen.  And we just to stress to people, if you need to make a call, stop and make that call, your life can depend on it," said Lt. Commander Brett Fabrri of the California Highway Patrol Garberville Office.

One-way controlled traffic for north and southbound lanes were in effect at the accident site until about 3 p.m. One northbound lane will remain closed until the accident site is completely cleared. Update: All lanes are now open.