SUMMIT -- Two fatal crashes in three days in the Santa Cruz Mountains have authorities stressing the importance of seat belts and cautious driving on rural roads.
A 38-year-old Boulder Creek man died in a crash on Highway 35 early Wednesday morning, the California Highway Patrol reported.
He was driving a 1997 Volvo S60 north on Bear Creek Road near where it meets Summit Road about 12:50 a.m., said California Highway Patrol officer Bradley Sadek.
The driver, whose name was not released, crossed into the southbound lane and down an embankment. He was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the Volvo. Authorities declared the man dead at the scene.
Officers investigated the cause of the crash Wednesday but have not released it. Sadek said he has seen many drivers walk away from rollover crashes because they were wearing a seat belt.
"Where the ejections were the contributing factor (in the driver's death), the seat belt would have kept them in that nice metal cage and saved them," Sadek said.
It was not yet clear if speed was a factor in the crash, but he noted that the speed limit is 35 mph at the Bear Creek Road crash scene.
"Slow down for the curves in the roadway," Sadek said. "The nature of the road is that the curve tightens as you go through it. You want to make sure that your speed is set going in to the turn to avoid having to make a drastic brake."
Officers are still investigating the cause of a
solo crash spotted on Monday on Jamison Creek Road that killed Timur Chetin, a 61-year-old man from Berkeley.
Chetin's name was released by the Santa Cruz County Coroner's Office on Wednesday.
Chetin's 2000 Ford Expedition landed about 60 feet down a dirt embankment near Empire Grade Road, according to the CHP. The Ford was spotted about 1:15 p.m., but it was not clear when the crash happened.
Authorities have not received toxicology results from either of the crashes.
Sadek said he hoped more drivers would buckle up.
"Given the type of vehicle and the nature of the crash, I think (a seat belt) would have helped his survival," he said.
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