A 42-year-old Fresno man was arrested on suspicion of felony drunken-driving Wednesday after crashing head-on into another car while driving the wrong way on Highway 99 in Merced, the California Highway Patrol reported.
Darrell Johnson suffered major injuries and remained hospitalized Thursday at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto under the supervision of CHP investigators, Officer Moises Onsurez said.
Three other people also were injured in the crash, which was reported at 3:44 p.m. Wednesday on Highway 99, just north of Childs Avenue. Joe Torrez Chavez, 51, of Merced, was the driver of a 2014 Toyota Camry. He and a passenger in his vehicle, Mao Ly, 36, of Merced, suffered “moderate” injuries. A second passenger in the Toyota, 39-year-old Sai Fo Saechao, of Merced, suffered major injuries, the CHP said in a news release.
All three were taken to area hospitals. Updates on their conditions were not available Thursday.
Investigators said Johnson was driving a 2003 Dodge Caravan north when he entered the southbound lane of traffic at the Childs Avenue exit.
“As Johnson continued down the offramp, vehicles swerved to avoid a head-on collision,” officers said. “The Caravan entered the southbound lanes of (Highway 99) in an oncoming direction and accelerated to a high rate of speed.”
Torrez Chavez was heading south on the highway with his two passengers and “attempted an evasive maneuver” but was unable to avoid the collision. All three people in the Camry were trapped and were pulled from the vehicle by emergency responders, the CHP said.
Rob Parsons: 209-385-2482