A Merced woman died and four people were hurt in a three-vehicle accident near Patterson on Wednesday.
According to the California Highway Patrol, the accident occurred at 5:07 a.m. at Highway 33 near Zacharias Road north of the city.
Gabino Solorro, 25, of Merced was driving a 2000 Nissan Frontier pickup north on 33 when he stopped, waiting to turn left on Zacharias. Solorro was headed out to do fieldwork in the area with four passengers in his truck, CHP officer Chuck Leon said.
Michael Ransdell, 61, of Turlock was driving a 2012 Peterbilt big rig and had stopped behind the pickup.
"For an unknown reason," Leon said, Solorro turned left, directly into the path of a 1995 Ford E-250 Econoline van, driven by Gabino Cisneros, 31, of Modesto, who was heading south on Highway 33.
The pickup and the van collided; the impact of the crash sent the pickup backward into the big rig. Solorro and the passenger in the front of the Nissan, Jesus Orozco, 19, of Merced, suffered minor injuries.
Magdalene Estrada, 43, of Merced was riding in the left rear passenger seat. She was airlifted to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto with a broken neck. Christina Perez, 18, of Merced suffered internal injuries and was airlifted to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto.
A 44-year-old woman riding in the center of the back seat was declared dead at the scene. Leon did not release her name, pending notification of her family.
Cisneros, the driver of the van, had minor injuries and was taken by ambulance to Memorial.
The driver of the big rig was not hurt; his vehicle sustained only minor damage.
Leon said everyone involved in the accident was wearing a seat belt, but the passenger who died had only a lap belt. Nobody has been cited, and the investigation is continuing. Officers do not believe alcohol or drugs were a factor in the accident, Leon said.
The road was closed for nearly three hours while officers investigated and workers cleared the scene.
Modesto Bee Breaking News Editor Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2343. Follow her on Twitter, @pattyguerra.