Second death reported after collision with U.S. Forest Service vehicle

A second person has died following a head-on collision Monday with a U.S. Forest Service Vehicle on Highway 49.

Joan Rice, 87, wife of Lon Rice, 74, died Monday evening from her injuries, CHP Officer Lewis Lugo said Tuesday. She had been flown with major injuries to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.

Lon Rice was pronounced dead at the site of Monday’s crash. The couple were from Mariposa.

The crash was reported at around 1 p.m. Monday. The couple were traveling northbound on Highway 49 near Griffin Road in a Chevrolet pickup truck when they collided with a pair of U.S. Forestry employees traveling southbound on the highway in a Jeep Cherokee, according to a news release.

The two U.S. Forest Service employees, 69-year-old driver Judy Reynolds and 68-year-old passenger Linda Archebeque, suffered moderate injuries and were also taken to CRMC by ambulance.

CHP Sgt. Ethan Jackson said the U.S. Forest Service vehicle merged into the northbound lane for an unknown reason, which forced the truck to swerve left. The Cherokee then tried to merge back into its original lane, but collided with the truck.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation, Lugo said.