FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. — Four people, including two children, tragically died March 2 after an SUV smashed into the back of an 18-wheeler on Interstate 5, north of Highway 33.
State troopers said the SUV, a Chrysler Aspen, was southbound on I-5 when it drifted into the west shoulder of the roadway for an unknown reason and rear-ended the 18-wheeler. Part of the SUV came to rest a few yards away from the 18-wheeler, while the front portion of the minivan remained latched onto it.
All of the van occupants were Washington state residents. The 18-wheeler was reportedly vacant when the crash occurred.
Authorities said some of the van occupants were ejected onto the roadway.
California Highway Patrol officials identified the deceased victims as Lute Fekitoa, 43, his daughter, 9-year-old Adimada Fekitoa, Naomi Cook, 35, and her son, 13-year-old Keola James Cook.
Emergency response personnel transported the 52-year-old Chrysler driver, a 37-year-old man, and a 12-year-old girl, to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, Calif., for treatment of serious injuries.
An investigation into the deadly crash is ongoing. No additional information was immediately available.
Commentary on the horrific rear-end collision in Fresno County, California
I am deeply saddened to learn of this accident that claimed the lives of four innocent victims and injured three others. This is a horrific accident, and those responsible must account to the families of the deceased. Uncovering those responsible will be a challenge but must be undertaken to ensure the families receive the answers and justice they deserve.
I am highly concerned with the actions of the truck driver. Why was the truck left on the shoulder? An interstate’s shoulder is not a parking lot, and vehicles cannot be left unattended. Some might assume the truck was disabled and the driver had no choice. This is not true. However, even if that is true, did the driver place proper warning triangles to warn oncoming traffic of the disabled truck’s location? Alternatively, was the truck disabled due to company negligence? That is, was the truck disabled because of a mechanical failure caused by the company’s lack of maintenance and repair? Routine maintenance and repair will prevent most mechanical failures.
The driver of the disabled semi-truck and the employer’s actions must be investigated. This accident would not have happened if the truck had not been on the shoulder of the road. Leaving the truck on the shoulder of the road caused the death of four innocent victims, injured three others, and has caused unspeakable pain in the lives of countless individuals and families.
I offer my sincerest and most heartfelt condolences to affected families and offer my prayers for the injured. May God be with you.
A GoFundMe can be found here.
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