Woman charged with vehicular manslaughter, DUI in fiery crash that killed two

Silvia Maria Gonzales
Silvia Maria Gonzales Special to The Bee

A married couple died in a fiery crash Wednesday afternoon in Fresno County that resulted in the arrest of a woman on suspicion of DUI, the California Highway Patrol reported.

At the time of the crash, “the two victims were so badly burned that we were unable to determine if the second victim was a child or an adult of small stature,” CHP spokesman Mike Salas said.

They were identified as a married couple by the Fresno County Coroner’s Office, who released their names Friday: Nicholas Flocchini, 79, and Janie Flocchini, 75, of Tranquillity.

The crash occurred around 3 p.m. at the intersection of Colorado Road and Sumner Avenue near Tranquillity.

DUI suspect Silvia Gonzales, 42, of Tranquillity has been charged with two felony counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office announced Friday. Other charges include driving under the influence of a drug and possession of marijuana while driving, along with additional allegations.

Three vehicles were involved in the deadly crash, including a Mercedes Benz and pickup truck.

According to Salas, Gonzales was driving a Honda CRV southbound on Colorado Avenue when she struck the back of the Mercedes that was directly in front of her.

The collision caused the Mercedes to go into the northbound lane and into the path of a pickup.

The Mercedes was fully engulfed in flames when CHP officers arrived. The two people inside, an adult and a person of small stature, died upon impact, Salas said.

Meanwhile, the pickup truck overturned onto its roof within the roadway. Inside the pickup was driver Ivonne Villialpando, 38, of Tranquillity and a 1-year-old baby.

Both Villialpando and the baby sustained minor to moderate injuries, and were flown to Community Regional Medical Center.

Gonzales was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of a controlled substance. She was taken to an area hospital.

The investigation is ongoing.

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Brianna Calix covers politics and investigations for The Bee, where she works to hold public officials accountable and shine a light on issues that deeply affect residents’ lives. She previously worked for The Bee’s sister paper, the Merced Sun-Star, and earned her bachelor’s degree from Fresno State.