Los Banos

Five people, including 2 children, killed in crashes in Merced County, CHP says

A cruiser on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, in Atwater, California Highway Patrol said.
A cruiser on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, in Atwater, California Highway Patrol said. tmiller@mercedsunstar.com

Five people were killed in two separate accidents involving big rigs on Interstate 5 near Los Banos early Tuesday, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The driver of a 2011 Freightliner, 56-year-old Braulio Martinez of Ontario, failed to stop his big rig as traffic slowed near an unrelated accident on northbound I-5 near Taglio Road, CHP said.

The big rig slammed into the rear of a 2012 Dodge Caravan carrying five people, CHP said, driving it into the center median.

The van’s driver, a 57-year-old woman, and two girls ages 6 and 10 suffered fatal injuries. CHP said they were pronounced dead at the scene. Their names have not been released, but officers said they are from Covina.

A 6-year-old girl in the van was flown to Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera with major injuries, CHP said, and 19-year-old Raylene Valencia was taken to Memorial Hospital in Modesto with minor injuries.

The second fatal accident occurred about 5 a.m. on northbound I-5 south of Shields Avenue when the driver of a 2014 Peterbilt failed to stop as traffic ahead slowed. He and his female passenger were killed in the crash and pronounced dead at the scene, CHP said.

The Peterbilt rear-ended a 1998 Freightliner that stopped ahead of it. The stopped big rig was in turn pushed into a 2011 International in front of it, CHP said.

*This story has been corrected from an earlier version.