A husband and wife delivering The Fresno Bee in southeast Fresno early Saturday were killed after a vehicle slammed into their car, Fresno police Lt. David Ramsey told reporters Saturday morning.
Marshall McDowell, The Bee’s director of audience development, confirmed that the crash killed a Bee contract carrier and his wife.
The couple was heading east on Kings Canyon Road near Temperance Avenue and might have been driving at a slow speed when a driver traveling at more than 80 miles per hour rear-ended them, Ramsey said. The crash occurred at 2:45 a.m., he said.
The victims were identified as Daniel Mendez, 53, and his wife Ramona Mendez, 43, Ramsey said.
Jeff Farmer, the owner of 365 Media Distributing which has a contract with The Bee to provide newspaper delivery services, said Mendez had been an independent contractor with the company for about seven years. Farmer said Mendez’s wife was not an independent contractor with the company.
The suspect, identified as Michael Robert Merritt-Hutchins, 25, was treated at Community Regional Medical Center for moderate injuries before he was booked into Fresno County Jail. The Fresno Fire Department extricated him from his vehicle, Ramsey said.
According to jail log records, Merritt-Hutchins was booked just before noon and was charged with two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, two counts of driving while intoxicated and causing injury or death and two counts of driving under the influence with .08 percent blood-alcohol level causing an injury or death. The jail records showed he was eligible for bail, which was set at $224,000.
Two tow trucks picked up the remains of the vehicles while a portion of Kings Canyon was closed to traffic Saturday morning. The couple drove a red Honda that was left mangled after the crash. The suspect drove a black Toyota that appeared flattened from the top.