El Nido victim killed in Highway 59 crash identified

A 40-year-old El Nido man who was killed in a head-on collision with a freight truck has been identified, authorities said Monday.

Candido Morales-Garcia was the driver of the Nissan Armada who was killed Sunday on Highway 59, the Merced County Coroner’s Office confirmed Monday. His family was injured in the same crash, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Morales-Garcia was driving south on Highway 59 south of Grant Road when, for unknown reasons, he lost control of his car and drifted into the oncoming lane and collided with a Freightliner truck carrying 17,000 pounds of paper, the CHP reported.

The collision was reported about 11:45 a.m., near the time a storm had left the road covered with hail, CHP Officer Eric Zuniga told the Sun-Star.

Morales-Garcia was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 12:34 p.m., Zuniga said.

His wife, who was in the vehicle, sustained minor visible injuries and was taken to a Fresno hospital, the CHP said. All three children – a 12-year-old boy, a 6-year-old girl and a 5-year-old girl – sustained major injuries, officers said, and were taken to Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera.

Zuniga said Sunday that the hail on the road likely played a role in the crash.

The driver of the truck, a 53-year-old man from Kerman, was not injured, Zuniga said.

Thaddeus Miller: 209-385-2453, @thaddeusmiller