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Divers find car in San Joaquin River

Merced County Sheriff's Department divers recovered a car Monday afternoon that plunged into the San Joaquin River near Kelly and Hills Ferry roads, northwest of Stevinson.

The car, a silver BMW 2002 5 Series, apparently skidded off the road around 1:20 a.m. Sunday, according to California Highway Patrol spokesman John Patterson.

The body of the solo occupant of the car was also recovered from the scene, but hasn't been identified. No other vehicles were involved.

In another crash reported over the weekend, the Merced County Coroner's office hasn’t released the identity of a 23-year-old man killed after his 2001 Honda struck a big rig on Highway 59 near Sandy Mush Road.

The big rig's driver was taken to Mercy Medical Center Merced with major injuries.

The crash happened around 9:20 a.m. Saturday. The victim, a 23-year-old man from Merced, was driving a 2001 Honda southbound on Highway 59, north of Furtado Road, at about 55 mph. Meanwhile, 44-year-old Jesus Gil Navarro of Delano was driving a 1998 Freightliner tractor-trailer northbound on Highway 59.

For unknown reasons, the 23-year-old Honda driver allowed his car to drift across the double-yellow line, colliding head-on with the big rig. The CHP said Navarro’s injuries aren’t life-threatening.

The big rig’s trailer overturned, while the tractor went into a ditch on the west shoulder. The Honda came to a rest on the west shoulder.

A 12-year-old male passenger in the big rig wasn’t hurt.

CHP said it's unknown whether drugs or alcohol were a factor in either crash.

— Sun-Star staff

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