Four victims identified in deadly Memorial Day weekend crash in Merced County

The Merced County Sheriff’s Office has released the names of four victims of a deadly traffic crash near Los Banos on Sunday.

According to authorities, Samuel Soto, 40, his two sons Nicolas Soto, 9, Diego Soto, 2, and Alondra Lara-Montes, 22, all of Pomona, were killed when their car crashed into a tree off of Highway 152 west of Los Banos on Sunday night. All four vehicle occupants were pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.

Samuel Soto was the father of the two boys. Authorities on Monday said Soto and Lara-Montes lived together and had a child in common, 2-year-old Diego Soto.

The collision was reported at about 8:29 p.m. Sunday on eastbound Highway 152, west of Highway 33.

Authorities said the 40-year-old man was driving a 2017 Nissan Altima east on highway 152 between 65 and 75 mph when the car began moving side to side in the roadway.

The driver lost control of the vehicle and it traveled north across the median and into the westbound lanes onto the shoulder of the highway before colliding into a tree, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Lara-Montes was the only occupant not wearing a seat belt at the time. Neither drugs nor alcohol appear to be a factor in the collision, authorities said.

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up for the family and funeral expenses, according to GoFundMe spokesperson Jenny Perillo who reached out to the Sun-Star by email.