A suspected wrong-way driver was taken to a Fresno hospital with major injuries Sunday morning after causing a crash on northbound Highway 99 in the Atwater area, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The names of those involved in the crash were not immediately available Sunday morning.
The incident began just after 9 a.m. after the CHP received reports about an erratic driver traveling south on Highway 99, according to Sgt. Gerardo Serrato. A CHP officer had been conducting a traffic stop on southbound Highway 99, north of Winton Way, when a witness alerted the officer about the erratic driver in a white truck with a camper shell. The officer called dispatch, and around the same time another witness alerted law enforcement.
CHP officers spotted the white Dodge Ram pickup traveling south on Highway 99 near Hammatt Avenue near Livingston. Officers attempted to stop the truck, but the driver continued southbound, and then crossed over the median and traveled into the northbound lanes of the highway.
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A Chevy Malibu carrying three occupants was traveling north on the highway when the driver saw the oncoming pickup and tried to take evasive action. The Ram clipped the right side of the Malibu.
The Dodge Ram then crashed into a guardrail and went off the edge of the highway. The Dodge traveled down an embankment, overturned and landed on Atwater Boulevard near Maple Street, where it burst into flames. The Malibu came to a stop on the highway.
CHP officers were able suppress the flames until firefighters arrived and extinguished the truck fire. The Ram’s driver was extricated and taken to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, Serrato said.
The Malibu’s driver had visible injuries that appeared to be minor. He was taken to the hospital for treatment, and the front passenger was treated as a precaution. The rear passenger in the Malibu was not hurt.
Serrato said it’s still unknown whether the driver of the Ram was impaired, and why he did not pull over for law enforcement is also under investigation.