By Millicent Mayfield
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO -- A van crossing into oncoming traffic caused a head-on collision Sunday afternoon that killed Examiner photographer Susan Caldwell and her 14-year-old daughter, Nina Garrison.
Although witness accounts vary, at around 2 p.m. a Honda van traveling southbound on Bayshore Boulevard near Oyster Point Boulevard crossed a double-barrier line and collided head-on with Caldwell's sedan, police said.
"This accident occurred so quickly and was so violent that it's no wonder that no one can agree on what exactly they saw," said South City police Sgt. Bill Carter.
According to police and fire officials, Caldwell was killed instantly. Garrison sustained massive injuries and later died at San Francisco General Hospital. The male driver of the van is in critical condition at SFGH.
It took about 45 minutes to retrieve all three victims from their mangled cars using the jaws of life.
"It was a very difficult extraction," said Jim Selvitella, battalion chief with the South San Francisco Fire Department. "It was a very traumatic call for all responders. Some of them will never see another accident like that in their entire careers."
The name of the driver of the van was not released at press time and it is unclear whether alcohol or drugs were a factor in the accident.
"There's very little that we can do to conduct that investigation until he's stable," Carter said. Police said traffic was closed along Bayshore Boulevard for about four and a half hours.
Caldwell, who worked with the Examiner and Independent newspapers for about 16 years, was on her way to the Cow Palace to take pictures of the Golden Gate Kennell Club dog show. Her daughter accompanied her because their cat had died a few weeks earlier and they were considering replacing the pet with a dog.