Big rig crash kills driver, sparks fire

The driver of a big rig was killed Tuesday afternoon in a solo vehicle crash on eastbound Highway 152, east of Upper Cottonwood Recreation Area.

The Merced County Coroner’s Office hasn't released the driver's name or age.

The incident was reported around 5:15 p.m. after the truck was traveling in the slow lane at an unknown speed. For unknown reasons, the driver allowed the truck to drift off the south side of the highway, according to the CHP.

The big rig traveled up a dirt embankment, began to overturn and turned back onto the roadway. Witnesses said the truck caught fire as it overturned. A Good Samaritan tried to pull the driver from the burning wreckage, but was unable to. That person received minor burns to both hands and was taken to Memorial Hospital Los Banos for treatment.

The big rig driver was pronounced dead at the scene. The truck started a 44 acre grass fire, which was contained by CalFire and Merced County Fire Department firefighters around 7 p.m.

A total of six fire engines, a water tender, one dozer, a helicopter, a safety officer and two firefighters responded to the scene.

— Sun-Star staff