Man’s death causes auto accident |

Man’s death causes auto accident

by Sheila Gardner

Two women were injured in a head-collision Tuesday in Minden believed to have been caused when the driver of one of the vehicles died at the wheel.

Douglas County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tom Mezzetta was driving south on Highway 395 near the intersection with Highway 88 shortly before 1 p.m. when a blue van crossed the center divider and headed toward his vehicle.

“The blue van was headed north when it jumped the center divider,” Mezzetta said. “I swerved to get out of the way and it clipped the left rear side of my car and shoved me out of the way.”

The van continued to travel in the southbound lane and hit a white sports utility vehicle head-on.

The driver of the SUV was taken by ambulance to a hospital while the female passenger in the blue van was transported to Reno by helicopter.

The identities of the victims were not released.

Mezzetta said he struck his head on the car door, but otherwise was uninjured. He used his car radio to report the accident.

The accident, just north of the junction of the two highways, tied up traffic for hours just prior to dismissal at Douglas High School. Southbound vehicles were rerouted through the Westwood subdivision.

Chris Oakden, a mechanic for the sheriff’s department, was behind Mezzetta in the traffic lane that had slowed for a red light.

“I saw this blue thing coming at me and I hit the brakes,” Oakden said. “I just got lucky. I’m still kind of nervous.”

Deputy Bryan Sanchez said emergency personnel performed CPR on the driver of the blue van, but he was dead.

“One witness said he appeared to be unconscious as he crossed over the center divider,” Sanchez said.