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Two CHP officers injured in Highway 152 wreck

LOS BANOS -- Hail spawned by thunderstorms led to a dozen accidents early Saturday afternoon on Pacheco Pass, including a four-vehicle wreck involving two California Highway Patrol cars which injured two officers.

CHP officers Allen Carmo and Adam Yates were hurt in the 1:20 p.m. accident on eastbound Highway 152 east of Dinosaur Point. Carmo received moderate injuries and was taken to San Jose Medical Center and Yates sustained minor injuries.

With pea-sized hail making the highway slick, a 2003 Kia Sedona driven by Robert Kuhne, 21, of Fremont went out of control, sliding into the rear of Carmo's patrol car which then hit Yates' cruiser. The Yates patrol car hit the car ahead of him but that motorist fled from the scene.

Meteorologist Jim Dudley of the National Weather Service in Hanford said several thunderstorms centered over Pacheco Pass dropped hail on the road, making driving slick. More severe thunderstorms moved into San Benito and Monterey counties later Saturday, dropping hail more than an inch in circumference.

Officer Kirk Arnold of the CHP's Traffic Management Center in Fresno said Carmo and Yates were westbound on Highway 152 east of Dinosaur Point when they observed a vehicle spin out in the eastbound lanes. Due to the heavy hail, vehicles were pulling to the shoulder of the road.

Officers said Kuhne was traveling eastbound at an unsafe speed for conditions and passing traffic before his vehicle skidded into the patrol cars. Another crash took place moments later, about 100 yards away, also due to unsafe speed.

Arnold said there were approximately 10 other collisions along Highway 152 attributed to high speed due to weather conditions on the road. Eastbound lanes of the highway were partially closed due to the numerous collisions.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2485 or dyawger@mercedsun-star.com.

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