A 29-year-old Hilmar man and an unborn baby girl were killed in a crash on the northern border of Merced County in Turlock on Tuesday morning, California Highway Patrol reported.
A 24-year-old pregnant woman from Turlock, Kelsi Marie Branco, was driving a 2012 Ford Fusion around 7:45 a.m. west on Golden State Boulevard near Griffith Avenue in the left lane, Officer Eric Zuniga said. The man driving a 2014 Dodge Challenger was stopped at a stop sign on Griffith Avenue, he said, and for an unknown reason, he entered the intersection and was "t-boned" on the driver side by the Ford Fusion.
The man, whose name is not being released until his family is notified, was transported to Emanuel Hospital where he later died, Zuniga said.
Branco, who was eight months pregnant, was taken to a hospital by witnesses, he said, where she later lost her baby. She will recover from her injuries, officers said.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
Tuesday’s tragedy was the latest in a string of recent fatal car crashes in the county.
As of Tuesday, seven other people have died in car crashes in Merced County this month.
At least nine people have been killed in crashes in Merced County since Dec. 1, according to Sun-Star archives.
On Saturday, Sharon Ziccone, 69, was walking on Parsons Avenue in Merced when she was struck by 30-year-old John Valasquez who was driving a Toyota Highlander, according to the Merced Police Department.
Rene Williams Jr., 31, was killed Dec. 13 in Merced County following a police chase that began in Atwater and ended with a fiery crash on Highway 99 near Winton Parkway.
A woman was killed after she ran across Highway 99 just south of the southbound off-ramp at Applegate Road on Dec. 9, according to CHP. The death was investigated as a suicide. That same day, two people were killed in a crash in Atwater on Juniper Avenue, Jessica Rodriguez, an 18-year-old Merced resident, and 20-year-old Atwater resident Luis Casares.
Dayveonna Polk, a 3-year-old Merced girl, was killed after she was struck by a car on R and 18th Streets in Merced on Dec. 4. The suspected driver of the vehicle was arrested on Dec. 5, Merced Police Department officials said.
“For this area, it’s a lot,” Zuniga said. Last year, more than 20 fatal crashes were reported in Merced County and this year “we’re going at the same pace.”
“People just need to slow down,” he added. “We know people are in a hurry but stop to think about what the impact will be.”
He also noted that “lack of seat belts has always been a concern here,” and the importance of wearing them correctly.