Woman killed when car hits tree along Highway 99 in Modesto

11/05/2013 2:22 PM

11/05/2013 8:22 PM

A Modesto woman died Tuesday in a wreck on Highway 99 after the car she was driving collided with a cement truck and spun off the road into a tree.

The 53-year-old woman and her passenger, Rebecca Fraley, 54, of San Jose were heading south in a Honda Civic near Kansas Avenue about 1:50p.m., said California Highway Patrol Officer Eric Parsons.

The Honda was in the right lane when a cement truck in the middle lane, driven by Brandon Velarde, 52, of Newman, signaled and merged into the right lane, authorities said. The truck’s rear right side struck the left front end of the Honda. The crash propelled the Honda off the road and into the tree.

Parsons said it was unclear whether Velarde saw the Honda and thought he had room to merge or if the Honda was in his blind spot.

Both women were trapped inside the car when emergency crews arrived. The driver, who was not identified because her family had not been notified, was pronounced dead at the scene.

After firefighters removed the car’s roof to get to her, Fraley was taken by ambulance to Doctors Medical Center. Parsons said she suffered major injuries.

Velarde was not injured.

The crash backed up traffic for hours, with lanes jammed for at least three miles to the Standiford Avenue exit.

Investigators had not determined who was at fault in the wreck. Parsons said drugs or alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the crash.

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