A man on a motor scooter traveling on the northbound Highway 101 viaduct through central San Rafael lost control, slammed into the median and catapulted over the rail, falling 40 feet down between the elevated freeway lanes onto a car stopped in traffic, police said.
The man was taken to Marin General Hospital with severe injuries, and police closed a portion of downtown Second Street after the 3:20 p.m. accident, said Margo Rohrbacher, a San Rafael police spokeswoman.
The condition of the rider, described as a male in his 40s, was not available Wednesday night.
The rider, whose name was not released, was traveling at about 60 mph when he failed to negotiate a sweeping curve, according to the California Highway Patrol. He was ejected into a gap in the freeway between the northbound and southbound lanes and fell onto a Volkswagen Jetta occupied by two teenagers on Second Street, said CHP Officer Eric Hohmeister. The man's green Vespa scooter remained on the freeway.
"The person in the car was uninjured," said CHP Officer Andrew Barclay. "Any time you are falling from that height the injuries are going to be severe."
The rider was wearing a helmet, which a witness described as a smaller, three-quarter type. A dog that was riding in a pouch with the motorcyclist was dead on the freeway, Rohrbacher said.
"I was behind the scooter and you could see it drift from the slow lanes toward the fast lane," said Carl Erickson of Novato,
Erickson did not see the impact, but he said he saw the scooter in the middle of the freeway.
"We were looking for the rider, but we didn't see anyone on the freeway," he said, adding that that area of Highway 101 can be tricky for an inexperienced rider. "We then looked over the guardrail and the person had fallen right onto Second Street."
Erickson's co-worker came on the scene and the pair helped move the motor scooter out of the freeway. They also saw the dog.
"My co-worker went over and saw (the) dog breathing very slowly and almost dead. They moved it off to the side into the emergency lane so a car would not hit it," he said.
Traffic was snarled in downtown San Rafael as two lanes of Second Street were closed between Hetherton and Irwin streets. Freeway traffic only stopped briefly.
Vespa scooters are allowed on freeways as long as their engines are 50 cubic centimeters or more. The Vespa in the accident had a 150 cc engine, according to the CHP.
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