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Driver Runs Off 29, Slams Into Cars Outside Rock Show

As the Battle of the Bands raged inside the Rutherford Grange, three vehicles parked on the highway shoulder nearby were banged up when a Honda drove off the road Saturday night. But it could have been worse, said one man whose van was totaled.

Erik Finkel was having a rocking night at the Napa Battle of the Bands, round two, Saturday at the Rutherford Grange.

Finkel was near the front of the crowd as singer-songwriter , a popular barista at and leader of the Napa band KVD, was about to begin her set around 10:30 p.m.

Then, unexpectedly, stage manager Serf Barnabei led a man in a yellow slicker to the microphone.

The stranger was a tow-truck operator and the message he delivered, blinking in the stage lights, was bad news: A motorist had sideswiped several cars parked along the Highway 29 shoulder outside the Grange, one of them a white Dodge van Finkel knew at once was his.

That put an end to Finkel's night of rock and roll -- and to his van, which he said was totaled by the damage.

But if his timing had been different, the collision could have been much more serious, Finkel said:

“Just a half hour before that, I went my car to get my energy drink, “ Finkel wrote on the Napa Patch Facebook page after the crash.

“Glad I didn't get it later. I would have been seriously hurt,” continued Finkel, an American Canyon music lover who is a zealous supporter of the Battle of the Bands.

A check of the CHP traffic incident information website after the collision indicated the driver of a Honda sedan had fallen asleep at the wheel while heading north on Highway 29 at about 10:20 p.m.

No further information on the crash was available Sunday night.

Fan-selected finalists from the two preliminary rounds of the Napa Battle of the Bands 2011 will play a final round at the Dec. 3, with a panel of celebrity judges determining the winners.

The finalists are , On3, , The Radio Effect, The Subtones, and Us As A Nation, according to the Napa Battle of the Bands 2011 Facebook page.

Louisa Hufstader November 07, 2011 at 03:56 PM
And to the tow truck operator who said "Ma'am, it's not the safest place to stand" when I was taking photos of the crash -- Thanks, but you do your job, sir, and I'll do mine.
Teresa Price November 07, 2011 at 05:02 PM
Louisa, That is such a rude comment! It seems he was trying to look out for your safety. Maybe"thank you sir" might have been a better comment.
Louisa Hufstader November 07, 2011 at 08:38 PM
Teresa, no worries, I did indeed thank him and move on quickly just as soon as I had my shot. I certainly didn't get in his face and explain that I was a working journalist with as much a right to be there as he had. That's not the Patch way and it's not my way either: I respect tow truck operators a lot more than I'm pretty sure they respect reporters.
Tom Ontis November 08, 2011 at 04:39 PM
Is the speed limit to high on parts of 29? Is it 55 or higher? Mayhaps it needs to be lowered, given the multitude of recent incidents.
John K. Ruch November 08, 2011 at 05:24 PM
The speed limit on Rt 29 through that part of Rutherford slows to 40 miles an hour. I've had people blow by me in the turn lane when I slowed down to observe the 40 mph speed limit there.

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