A 65-year-old Merced County man was arrested after a violent crash on Highway 99 north of Chowchilla killed two people. Authorities said the man had caused two hit-and-runs moments earlier while allegedly driving under the influence.
Bruce Erickson of Winton, northeast of Atwater, sustained minor injuries after his Ford F-350 pickup landed on top of a Toyota Tacoma, killing its two occupants, said Omar Godinez, a CHP spokesman.
The accident happened shortly before 5 p.m. Friday. Godinez said Erickson crashed into two vehicles while leaving Farnesi’s restaurant in Chowchilla.
Erickson drove his Ford F-350, which was hauling a trailer, northbound on Highway 99, Godinez said, before taking the Road 15 exit. Erickson was driving at highway speeds when he took the exit, which features a sharp right turn.
Instead of fully exiting the highway, Godinez said, the truck went airborne after driving past the edge of the exit curve. It landed directly atop the Toyota as it was entering the highway.
The two victims inside the vehicle — a man and a woman, both 28, both from Merced — died at the scene. Their identities were not released pending notification of family.
Police arrested Erickson after noticing he was under the influence, Godinez said. Erickson refused to be tested for alcohol.
The investigation is continuing.