Five people in a Mercedes sport-utility vehicle were killed when it crashed into a tractor-trailer rig in a fiery collision Tuesday morning west of San Joaquin, according to California Highway Patrol reports.
The collision occurred about 9 a.m. when the eastbound Mercedes apparently was driven through a stop sign and struck by the northbound big rig at Manning Avenue and Highway 33, said CHP Steve Schuh. The truck didn’t have a stop sign. The crash caused a fire, and three people died inside the Mercedes, he said.
Schuh said two people were pulled from the Mercedes by Fresno County Sheriff’s deputies as the fire started, but they also died at the scene.
The truck driver, identified as Wayne Fletcher, 58, of Dinuba, was airlifted to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno with major injuries. His rig was carrying gravel, the CHP reported.
The identities of the dead were not immediately available, but the Mercedes is registered to a 63-year-old man from the Hayward area, according to CHP reports. Four other males were also in the 2009 Mercedes at the time of the crash.
One of the truck’s diesel tanks ruptured, leaving a hazardous materials spill to clean up, Schuh said. About 60 gallons spilled on the roadway, he said.
The two roads, which closed about 9 a.m., were reopened at 1:45 p.m., Schuh said.
The collision remains under investigation by the CHP.