Big rig hits compact, passenger is killed

vpatton@mercedsunstar.comDecember 10, 2012 

— A 24-year-old Merced woman died after the car she was riding in ran a stop sign and was hit by a big rig during the weekend near Highway 59 and Mission Avenue, the California Highway Patrol reported Monday.

The Stanislaus County coroner's office identified her as Kayla Kidwell.

The incident was reported just before 10 a.m. as Jeffrey Brown, 24, was driving a 2007 Toyota Corolla westbound on Mission Avenue, approaching Highway 59, at about 30 mph. Kidwell was among three passengers in the Corolla.

Meanwhile, Joginder Singh, 57, of Livingston, was driving a 2002 Freightliner, pulling a utility van trailer, southbound on Highway 59 at about 37 mph. There were no passengers in his vehicle.

Brown failed to yield at a stop sign and proceeded into the intersection, directly into the path of the big rig, according to the CHP.

The front of the big rig struck the right side of the Toyota. Kidwell, who was the right-front passenger in the Corolla, was taken to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto with major injuries and later was pronounced dead.

Brown sustained minor injuries. Passenger Ashley Tritthart, 25, of Merced, received minor injuries. The CHP said passenger Jonathan Chavez, 5, wasn't hurt.

DUI was not a factor in the crash, according to the CHP. Officers reported that the weather was clear and sunny when the crash happened.

The incident remains under investigation.

City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsunstar.com.

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