Driver who died in Highway 41 head-on near O’Neals cutoff wasn’t wearing a seatbelt

The California Highway Patrol closed both northbound and southbound directions of Highway 41 south of Yosemite Lakes in Madera County on Thursday morning after one person was killed in a two-vehicle crash.

The crash was reported about 7:30 a.m. on 41 south of Road 200. The roadway was reopened shortly before 11 a.m.

According to the CHP, Ma Duarte, 44, of Madera died in the crash. Amy Mecchi, 35, of Coarsegold, and her 16-year-old passenger, Ella Vermeulen of Coarsegold, were taken to Valley Children’s Hospital for treatment of minor and moderate injuries, respectively.

The CHP described the crash:

Duarte was northbound in a 2008 Chevrolet traveling at about 50 mph when traffic in front of her began to slow. Duarte braked but lost control of her vehicle, which skidded into the southbound lane, the right side of the Chevy hitting the front of the 2017 Ford driven by Mecchi, causing the Chevy to overturn and come to rest in the southbound lane.

The CHP said Duarte was not wearing a seatbelt and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The CHP said Friday that the crash is still under investigation.