Monterey County

Chinese tourists crash into tree in Big Sur; one woman dies

Chinese tourists crash into tree in...

BIG SUR, Calif. - UPDATE 6/1/2017 5:42 p.m.: A family trip down the scenic coast ended in tragedy.

On Wednesday, the California Highway Patrol said a minivan carrying six Chinese tourists crashed into a tree on Highway 1 in Big Sur, killing a 57-year-old woman, Xia Wang.

The car was a rental from SIXT RENT A CAR, LLC.

Another victim was flown to Natividad Medical Center and four others were transported by an ambulance.

Over the past few years, Monterey County has been working hard at attracting visitors, especially those from China, who account for a major part of the area's tourism spending.

While the Carmel Chamber of Commerce has tried to accommodate foreign visitors, including translating its website into different languages, there are some messages that are harder to get across.

"How to you communicate to be very, very careful? We've done that a little bit with Monastery Beach, ... But traffic … where can you park, where you cannot not. That's a challenge," said Ben Beesley, with Carmel Chamber of Commerce.

Geng Zan, an experienced traveler from Beijing on a California road trip with his wife, said it's taking him some time to get used to driving in the U.S. 

"We always go up hill, downhill, some of the turns are really sharp. That kind of (feels) dangerous, especially when the big trucks are beside you," Geng said.

But, Geng said, foreigner or not, car accidents can happen just about anywhere.

"I think it depends on their own knowledge, … own skill about the driving, so it could happen to any other county, any other people," Geng said.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation. the CHP said, at this point, drug or alcohol do not appear to be factors.

UPDATE 6/1/2017 2:36 p.m. The California Highway Patrol has released the names of the tourists involved in the crash along Highway 1 in Big Sur Wednesday as Xia Wang, Zaoyue Zang, Xiaoging Liu, Beibin Zhang, and Nanou Zhang. 

UPDATE 6/1/17 12:15 p.m.: Several Chinese tourists crashed along Highway 1 in Big Sur Wednesday afternoon, according to the CHP.

Officers said a woman died during the crash, near Captain Cooper Elementary School, the site of another deadly crash in February.

The tourists were driving a rented 2017 Mercedes-Benz van, when it veered off the road and hit a tree, officers said.

KION will have more on this story Thursday evening.

UPDATE 5/31/17 5:33 p.m.: The California Highway Patrol confirms one person was killed in a crash along Highway 1 in Big Sur Wednesday afternoon. 

Law enforcement officers are investigating the scene and a coroner's unit is being sent out.

According to the CHP, six people were in a van that crashed head on into a tree, headed southbound on Highway 1 near Captain Cooper Elementary School. Officers said they were tourists, one from the U.S. and five from China.

PREVIOUS STORY: According to the California Highway Patrol, a major car accident occurred on Highway 1 near Captain Cooper Elementary School in Big Sur. 

Six people were involved in the accident. Two people suffered major injuries, two with moderate injuries and two with minor injuries. 

Four ambulances and two air ambulances have been called to the scene.  

KION will update this article as more information becomes available. 


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