Chain of head-on collisions on Highway 41 kills a woman, injures six others

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A woman died and six others were injured Friday night in a chain of head-on collisions along Highway 41.

The initial crash happened around 8:50 p.m. near Harlan Avenue, roughly 21 miles south of Fresno and just east of Riverdale.

A woman in her 20s died after her Honda Civic that was traveling southbound on Highway 41 drifted into the northbound lane for unknown reasons, according to California Highway Patrol spokesman Mike Salas.

The Civic crashed head-on with a Kia SUV, which was occupied by an adult driver and three children ages 6-15.

A second head-on collision followed.

A male driver, who CHP said was distracted for unknown reasons, collided head-on with a southbound vehicle that had a family inside.

The male driver, who CHP said is in his 30s, then swerved back into the northbound lane and struck a good Samaritan (female) who had pulled over and tried to direct traffic because of the initial head-on collision.

Then a third head-on collision happened.

The same male driver jolted back into the southbound lane and crashed head-on with a big rig.

There is no median dividing the northbound and southbound lanes on this stretch of Highway 41.

The woman driving the Honda Civic that was part of the initial head-on crash died at the scene, Salas said.

The good Samaritan suffered major injuries, CHP said. The condition of the others involved in the crashes ranged from major to moderate. All were rushed to local hospitals.

The big rig driver was not injured.

Highway 41 was closed in both directions, shut down between Mt. Whitney and Harlan avenues.

CHP was investigating whether alcohol or drugs were involved in the crash.