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CHP officer struck by car on Highway 99 near Earlimart

A California Highway Patrol officer suffered moderate injuries Tuesday evening when he was struck by a vehicle traveling southbound on Highway 99 in Tulare County.

According to a report by CHP Visalia Area Public Information Officer Steve Beal, the incident started just after 6 p.m. when a tractor-trailer rig caught fire while traveling south on Highway 99. The big rig stopped at the Avenue 56 off-ramp near Earlimart and Tulare County Fire responded to the fire.

About 40 minutes later, a blue Toyota Tundra and a white Audi crashed near the location of the truck fire, blocking the No. 1 southbound lane. The officer stopped his patrol vehicle behind the disabled vehicles and was stepping out when the back of his patrol vehicle was hit by a 2005 Chrysler driven by 62-year-old Stephen J. Bawden of Grand Canyon, Arizona.

CHP said on its incident log that the officer was "awake" and "coherent" minutes after the collision. Bawden suffered minor injuries. Both were taken to Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia for treatment.

CHP did not release the officer's name.

Both southbound lanes were closed immediately after the crash but have reopened. The investigation into the crash is continuing, but CHP said neither drugs nor alcohol appear to be a factor. Anyone who witnessed the events unfold is asked to call Beal at 559-734-6767.