Four men killed in a fatal van crash northeast of Reedley on Friday night were farm workers from Porterville who were not wearing seat belts and were thrown from the van, the California Highway Patrol confirmed Saturday.
Five other men in the van, including the driver, were all wearing seat belts and sustained minor injuries, CHP Officer Kirk Arnold said.
The Fresno County Coroner’s Office on Saturday identified the men who were killed in the crash: Fortino Vasquez Tepeco, 29, Pedro Rodriguez Vasquez, 21, Aguileo Vasquez Vargas, 56, and Jorge Aguilera, 55.
The driver of the van, Augustin Mendoza, 39, of Porterville was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter. CHP said although Mendoza was not a contracted farm labor driver, all nine Porterville men were farm laborers coming from work.
The 2004 Chevy Astro van was attempting to pass a tractor-trailer pulling two flatbed trailers along American Avenue shortly before 6 p.m. when the semi-truck turned left to enter Navelencia Avenue and the van struck its left front fender and wheel, overturning several times, the CHP said. The semi-truck driver was uninjured.
The van had only eight seat belts for the nine men, the CHP said. The men who received minor injuries are: Eufrasio Martinez, 26, Modesto Zapotitlan, 37, Faustion Angel, 40, and Alejandro Jimenez, 19.