73-year-old identified as driver who went off cliff along Highway 1 in Pacifica

Bay Area

PACIFICA, Calif. (KRON) – The driver killed when his car flew off Devils Slide in Pacifica has been identified as a San Francisco resident.

73-year-old Anthony Colonnese Jr. was heading north towards the Toms Lantos Tunnel when his car veered into the opposite lane and drove off the cliff Wednesday afternoon.

The car is still at the beach as crews work to remove it. This stretch of Highway 1 is known to be dangerous.

Investigators say once the car is recovered, it could lead to more clues in this crash.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating what caused the driver of this car to steer off to the opposite lane then off a cliff.

The San Mateo County Coroner’s Office identified the driver killed as the 73-year-old San Francisco resident on Thursday. 

“Mechanical defects of the vehicle can also play a part in the role in an event like this. We have not been able to recover the vehicle yet and we have not yet had a chance to inspect it, take a look and see if that was possibly a factor in this specific collision,” Officer Mark Andrews said.

This curvy section of Highway 1 heading towards Half Moon Bay is known to be dangerous. In recent years there were at least three fatal crashes.

In August 2020, a car went off a cliff just south of Devil’s Slide. The driver later died at the hospital.

In November 2020, a motorcyclist died after riding over a cliff near the same area.

In December 2019, video shows an SUV going over a cliff near Gray Whale Cove State Beach where a woman died.

All these crashes are under investigation.

Officer Mark Andrews with CHP San Francisco says issues on any roadway can be caused by distracted driving and speeding.

“Looking at the cell phone or looking down towards your radio or heater controls. Anything that takes your eyes away from the roadway for even a moment,” Officer Andrews said. “When people are traveling too fast they don’t adjust their speeds for the curvatures of the roadway then it could be very severe consequences when they try to take an abrasive action. Trying to correct those mistakes when they’ve already been made once the vehicle starts to travel out of control.”

In Wednesday’s incident, the man was alone in the vehicle. Investigators are waiting for the autopsy that may determine what caused the crash.

In December 2020, Caltrans installed temporary concrete barriers and enhanced curve warning signs; a permanent project is scheduled for 2024.

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