Salinas: CHP release name of victim in Highway 68 fatal crash

SALINAS, Calif. - UPDATE: The California Highway Patrol released the name of the woman who died in a car accident on Highway 68 as Gayle Starr Paula Benedikt of Salinas. Benedikt was 64 years old. 


A 64-year-old Salinas woman was killed and a 33-year-old Marina man was injured Tuesday morning when their cars collided on Highway 68 near Corral De Tierra Road.

"I am saddened, of course. You're always saddened when there is a fatality on the road," said commuter Phyllis O'Shea.

The accident happened around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. The woman was driving a 2002 Honda Civic west toward Monterey.

"The vehicle going westbound turned in front the eastbound vehicle causing a collision," said officer Mishell Marmo with the California Highway Patrol.

The woman died at the scene. The man, who was driving a 2001 Nissan Pathfinder, was taken to the hospital where he is recovering. According to Marmo, it is still too early to know if drugs or alcohol were involved in the crash or why exactly the woman moved into the oncoming traffic.

"Highway 68 is not a safe road to travel," said Marco Chun with Highway 68 Gas and Coffee.

Chun has been in business for nearly 30 years. His shop is right next to Highway 68, a few hundred yards away from where the accident happened.

"I’ve seen quite a few (accidents),” said Chun. “About a week and a half ago they had another accident up by the grade, by the light. It's a dangerous road."

The Transportation Agency of Monterey County is aware of these safety concerns. At a Highway 68 improvement workshop in May, TAMC officials discussed three options to make the highway safer and reduce traffic including having roundabouts instead of signals, widening three parts of the road and installing an adaptive signal system.

“It would be nice if it (Highway 68) were wider but it's not so we have to just deal with what we have," said O'Shea.

But these changes are coming thanks to Measure X that includes $50 million over the next 30 years, according to TAMC.

In the meantime, best advice from long time commuters is to slow down.

"Take your time,” said O'Shea. "Either leave earlier if you need to get to work or just be patient."



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