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Two die when car crosses highway median

Two died and two others received major injuries Monday afternoon in a sideswipe accident involving two vehicles on Highway 99 south of Childs Avenue.

Both the driver and his female passenger, in their 20s, were pronounced dead at the scene of the 4:35 p.m. accident. The southbound 1998 Honda Accord they were riding in went out of control into the northbound lanes, into the path of a 2003 Toyota Tacoma pickup hauling a rental trailer.

Officer Shane Ferriera, California Highway Patrol spokesman, said the identities of the people killed are not being released until their next-of-kin have been notified. Their car was southbound in the fast lane at an unknown speed when it veered into the center divider, slid out of control into the northbound slow lane and was struck broadside by the pickup.

The driver of the Tacoma, Molly Meloy, 28, of San Diego, was taken to the Community Campus of Mercy Medical Center Merced for treatment of moderate injuries. Her condition was unknown.

Meloy's passenger, Rita Meloy, 23, of San Diego, received major injuries and was airlifted to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto where she was being evaluated in the emergency room Monday evening, according to a hospital spokesman.

Ferriera said alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the accident, which remains under investigation. Northbound lanes of the highway were shut down while the medical helicopter touched down to take Rita Meloy to the Modesto trauma center.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209-385-2485 or