Slick roads and a steady downpour of rain Monday and Tuesday were major factors in significant crashes that left several injured.
As of Tuesday afternoon, 0.62 inches of rain fell upon Merced in the past three days, according to National Weather Service readings at the Merced Regional Airport.
California Highway Patrol Officer Eric Zuniga said it wasn’t everyday traffic enforcement has to deal with four crashes involving big rigs in a single day like what happened Monday.
“It’s a factor that people are driving too fast for the road conditions,” Zuniga said.
A 69-year-old Hilmar man was injured after he allowed the truck he was driving to overturn in rural Merced County on Monday, according to the CHP.
Larry Peterson was driving southeast on Turlock Road in a 1999 International around 2:45 p.m. when he allowed the truck to drift off the road, according to Officer Moises Onsurez.
The driver over-corrected, turning left across both lanes of the road near Dry Creek Road, CHP said. The truck overturned and hit a power pole.
When first responders arrived, Peterson had gotten out of the truck but the cab was "fully engulfed" in flames, Onsurez said. Peterson was not wearing a seat belt, CHP said.
Firefighters with Calfire put out the flames. The man was taken by ambulance with minor lacerations to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto, CHP said.
Earlier in the day, northbound traffic on Highway 59 in Merced County was shut down for several hours after a tractor-trailer crashed into a drainage ditch.
The 62-year-old driver was going just 25 mph when the truck veered off the road, CHP said.
Zuniga said CHP handled about eight different crashes during commuting hours between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Monday that resulted from speeds too fast for road conditions, or from following other vehicles too closely.
There weren’t as many crashes Tuesday, but first responders were still busier than usual, Zuniga said.
A driver suffered minor injuries after hitting a pole at the intersection of Highway 59 and Olive Avenue Tuesday, according to the Merced Fire Department.
A 53-year-old woman suffered moderate injuries Tuesday morning after her car hydroplaned and crashed into an orchard in Merced, police said.
Merced police responded to reports of a traffic collision at about 11 a.m. north of the intersection of Campus Parkway and East Gerard Avenue.
The driver was traveling north on Campus Parkway from South Coffee Street toward East Childs Avenue when her car hydroplaned, or glided over the wet road, into a curb just north of East Gerard Avenue, police said.
The car then continued off the road into two orchard trees and eventually came to rest at the side of the road.
The driver, who was alert and conscious, was transported by ambulance to a Modesto area hospital with moderate injuries, according to police.
Neither alcohol nor drugs appeared to be factors in the collision, Merced Police Officer Craig McKeeman said. However, he said high speed and rainy conditions were factors.