Two people died on central San Joaquin Valley highways Monday, including a Mendota man in a crash just outside the city. In addition, a third man who died Saturday has been identified.
Just before midnight, 30-year-old Rodolfo Perez was driving south into Mendota on Highway 33 when he allowed his 2006 Chevrolet Silverado pickup to drift into the northbound lane where he was hit by a tomato hauler, the California Highway Patrol said.
The hauler, a Freightliner truck-tractor combination driven by Gerardo G. Barajas, 50, of Coalinga, was traveling 57 mph, CHP said. Barajas swerved but hit Perez’s pickup in the left front. Perez was pronounced dead at the scene. The CHP said it doesn’t appear that either alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash.
Also Monday, a man driving south on Highway 99 died in a fiery crash just north of Delano. The CHP said the single-vehicle accident happened about 3:30 p.m. when the 2003 Ford F-150 pickup drifted onto the shoulder, rolled, hit an electrical box and caught fire. The driver was pinned in the wreckage. He was identified as Hugo Contreras, 35, of Bakersfield.
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On Tuesday, the Tulare County Coroner’s Office released the identity of a man who was killed Saturday near Dinuba. Just before midnight, Juan Cruz, 34, of Orange Cove, was driving a Chevrolet east on Avenue 424 west of Road 100 when for unknown reasons his car veered left off the road and hit a concrete post, the CHP said. He died at the scene.