CHP reports deadly weekend on Merced County roads

vpatton@mercedsunstar.comJune 23, 2013 

Several fatal crashes were reported in recent days in Merced County, including two on Sunday, according to the California Highway Patrol.

A head-on crash that killed two people was reported at 2:05 a.m. Sunday on Santa Fe Drive, just north of the Beachwood area, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The names of the victims haven't been released, pending notification of their families or next-of-kin.

The crash happened on westbound Santa Fe Drive at Belcher Avenue, according to Officer Jason Schoonhoven. A 23-year-old man from Winton was driving a 1992 Honda eastbound in the westbound No. 1 lane of Santa Fe Drive, west of Belcher Avenue. Meanwhile, A 24-year-old man was driving a 1997 Toyota Camry westbound in the same lane on Santa Fe Drive, east of Belcher Avenue.

Both vehicles collided head-on at the intersection of Santa Fe Drive and Belcher Avenue. The drivers sustained major injuries and were pronounced dead at the scene. No passengers were in either car.

The Honda came to a rest blocking the eastbound No. 1 and No. 2 lanes of Santa Fe Drive, while the Toyota came to a rest blocking the westbound No. 1 and No. 2 lanes of Santa Fe Drive.

CHP investigators said it's unknown whether DUI was a factor in the crash, which remains under investigation.

Another fatal crash was reported Sunday after 8 a.m. on southbound Interstate 5 south of Cottonwood Road, north of Santa Nella.

A 50-year-old woman was driving a 1991 Toyota Tercel southbound in the No. 2 lane of Interstate 5, carrying an 11-year-old female passenger, according to CHP Officer Jesse Lopez.

For unknown reasons, the driver of the Tercel allowed the car to drift onto the shoulder. The Toyota traveled back into the No. 2 southbound lane of the highway, striking a 1986 Ford pickup truck.

The Toyota spun of control, traveled back onto the shoulder and overturned, ejecting the driver. The driver of the Tercel sustained fatal injuries. The 11-year-old girl sustained minor injuries. The driver of the Ford pickup wasn't hurt.

Three people were killed in a head-on crash Friday on Interstate 5 near Santa Nella. The crash happened around 4:30 p.m. when a driver traveling alone northbound on Interstate 5 crossed over the center median into southbound traffic for unknown reasons.

The Toyota crashed head-on into a Ford carrying six people, which included at least two children. The drivers of both vehicles were killed, in addition to the Ford’s front passenger. The remaining passengers in the Ford were taken to local hospitals and their conditions are unknown.

The coroner hasn't released the names of those who died.

City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com.

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