Joe Claus, an employee at Bear River Casino, said his son, 16-year-old Justin Claus, was riding in a 2007 Chevrolet Impala with Seher and his girlfriend - Seher’s granddaughter - when their vehicle was struck by a 2001 Toyota Tacoma at the intersection of Del Norte and I streets at 6:43 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15. Joe Claus said the accident happened about 20 minutes after his son, a varsity basketball player at Fortuna High School, was named Logger Classic MVP.
Joe Claus said his son “bumped his head” but was in otherwise good condition and was released from the hospital following the accident. He said he believed his son’s girlfriend, a varsity cheerleader at Fortuna High School who was driving the vehicle, refused medical treatment and was also in good condition. He said Seher remains in critical condition and that he understood her injuries were extensive.
According to Eureka Police Department traffic officer Tim Jones, the names of the other parties involved in the accident are not being released because they are juveniles.
Witnesses told officials, according to an EPD press release, that the Tacoma, driven by a 17-year-old male, was illegally racing a red Toyota Corolla driven by a 17-year-old female driving north on I Street just before crashing into the Impala. Officials added that witnesses estimated the speeds of the two racing vehicles to be between 50 to 70 miles per hour.
The Impala was traveling west on Del Norte across I Street when it was broadsided by the Tacoma, the release said. The truck rolled over as it continued north on I Street and the impact caused the Impala to strike a retaining wall at the intersection.
Joe Claus said he was frustrated to hear that racing is suspected to be a major factor in the crash. He pointed to the Samoa Drag Strip, which he said is supposed to offer a safe outlet for those looking to race.
”The point of the drag strip is to keep this from happening,” he said. “It’s a shame that this is going on in the streets.”
Jones said the EPD officer investigating the accident was not immediately available to comment on whether any arrests had been made or whether charges had been filed.
Alcohol and or drug impairment has not been ruled out, and the accident remains under investigation.
The EPD is asking any witnesses to the crash to call traffic officer Tim Jones at 441-4109.
Kaci Poor can be reached at 441-0504 or email@example.com.