82-year-old driver killed in freak accident on Hwy 101 ID'd

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An elderly man was struck in the neck and killed by a large metal nut while driving northbound on U.S. Highway 101 in Menlo Park early Friday afternoon, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Authorities identified 82-year-old Louis Schaefer of Menlo Park as the driver of a white Toyota van that was struck by the item when it smashed through his windshield near the Willow Road exit at about 1 p.m.

CHP Officer Art Montiel said the projectile came from the opposite side of the highway. 

After being struck, witnesses say they saw the van with its solo driver suddenly lose control before veering across the fast lane and colliding with the center divide. He rode the divide for about 100 feet before eventually coming to a stop.

CHP described the object as being about 2 to 3 inches in diameter or about the size of a baseball and said it looked like plumbing material.

No other vehicles were involved in the accident. Traffic returned to normal just ahead of the evening commute. 

Some witnesses have called CHP, but they need more information, especially if someone saw a possibly unsecured load from another vehicle. 

Another driver did stop to help the victim who was said to be still alive at the time, according to CHP, but the man died before an ambulance arrived. 

Officer Montiel said at the speed he was going, the victim probably never saw it coming.