Accident that Killed Two Teens Raises Safety Concerns about Highway 49

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

AUBURN -- At Bear River High School in Grass Valley, notes expressing grief and loss sit amid a pile of flowers, snacks, baseballs and musical instruments.

They are a tribute to two 18-year-olds who were killed Thursday in a mess of metal on Highway 49 near Auburn.

Investigators say Jude Douden and Joseph Rantz' BMW was going too fast in the rain when it lost control and drove into oncoming traffic.

"It's pathetic; it's scary," Al Casner said.

Casner says he's seen many crashes in the 15 years he's run his business along that stretch of road which links Auburn and Grass Valley.

"I wanna say five or six fatalities and lots of wrecks," Casner said.

Casner says drivers rarely follow the 65 mph speed limit here, giving Highway 49 the nickname "blood alley."

"Speed is what's killing people; people are going too fast," Casner said.

Auburn and Placer County Officials were aware of these concerns well before Thursday's crash.

"Tragically last year two kids died walking home probably no more than a mile from yesterday's accident," said Auburn City Council member Daniel Berlant. "We've got to do more to prevent those kinds of really tragic accidents from occurring."

Berlant said that a decade ago the highway was widened, but problems persist.

"You got head-on traffic coming both ways, so anything can happen," Jeff Sacknievich said.

Sacknievich noticed the danger due to speeding and a lack of a concrete barrier between oncoming traffic.

"It could happen anytime, to anyone," Sacknievich said.

The unexpected loss of two young lives is reigniting concerns this community has been trying to overcome for years.