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Big-rig collision leaves one driver dead

LOS BANOS -- Juan Ortiz, 57, of Five Points, died late Wednesday morning when his big rig plowed into the back of the truck-trailer combination ahead of him at high speed on Interstate 5 just south of the Arburua Road overpass.

California Highway Patrol Officer Mike Panelli said Ortiz's truck-tractor was demolished in the 11:39 a.m. accident when it struck a rig driven by David Skipengr, 57, of San Francisco.

Skipengr was southbound on I-5 pulling two trailers owned by Bimbo Bakeries. He slowed for traffic stopped ahead because of road construction and Ortiz failed to see the stoppage in time to stop. Ortiz's 2000 Freightliner was hauling a single tank-trailer carrying fertilizer products, Panelli said.

Skipengr told CHP officers he would seek his own treatment for minor injuries.

Panelli said the road closure was indicated by electronic warning devices and cones. Skipengr's rear trailer flipped onto its side, blocking the slow lane and part of the fast lane, while Ortiz's truck came to rest on the right shoulder of the southbound lanes.

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

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