FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A driver suspected of being under the influence of alcohol is accused of colliding with a car on Highway 99, resulting in a fiery crash that killed the other driver, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The CHP says its dispatch center received a 9-1-1 call Friday night, just after 11:00 p.m., of a Mitsubishi Galant that was “blacked out” and blocking the middle northbound lane on HWY 99, just north of Clovis Avenue.
Shortly after that call, the CHP says its officers were alerted to a crash in which a Toyota Rav4 was traveling in the same area, and collided with the Mitsubishi. Officers say the driver of the Toyota, 25-year-old Jose Lopez Gracida of Fresno, failed to avoid hitting the Mitsubishi from behind and both vehicles were forced off the roadway and came to rest on the right-hand shoulder. They also say the Mitsubishi became engulfed in flames and its driver, a 28-year-old woman from Selma, was unable to get out in time and died of her injuries.
Officers say they suspect that the Mitsubishi was also involved in a prior crash, which left it disabled in the roadway.
Investigators believe Gracida was driving under the influence and they arrested him. He was taken to an area hospital for treatment and, upon his release, officers say he will be charged with Vehicular Manslaughter while under the influence of alcohol.
The woman’s name is being witheld until next-of-kin notifications can be made.