Crime

Crash that killed 20-year-old woman in Merced County was drug-related, CHP says

Woman dies in fatal Merced County crash

A woman in her 20s died and a man suffered major injuries in a solo rollover crash Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017, off eastbound Highway 152, west of the Highway 59 interchange, California Highway Patrol reported.
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A woman in her 20s died and a man suffered major injuries in a solo rollover crash Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017, off eastbound Highway 152, west of the Highway 59 interchange, California Highway Patrol reported.

A woman killed Tuesday night in a suspected drug-related crash in rural Merced County has been identified.

The Merced County Coroner’s Office on Wednesday identified the victim as 20-year-old Maya Isabelle Thone of Pacifica.

Thone was a passenger in a 2013 Nissan sedan that crashed around 6 p.m. on Highway 152 near Flanagan Road, between El Nido and Dos Palos, the California Highway Patrol reported.

The driver, identified by the CHP as Mukai Masayoshi, 34, of San Jose, suffered major injuries in the crash and was taken to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto for treatment. An update on his condition was not immediately available. CHP investigators said “drugs appear to be a contributing factor in this collision” and said Masayoshi was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI.

Officers said Masayoshi was driving east on the highway at a high rate of speed when he passed another vehicle on the road. Masayoshi moved to the left and onto the median of the highway, but lost control of his vehicle when he tried to re-enter the right lane, investigators said.

The Nissan traveled out of control and off the roadway into a dirt field where it flipped multiple times, officers said, landing on its roof.

Thone died at the scene.

Tuesday’s crash was at least the second deadly wreck on Highway 152 in Merced County this week in which authorities suspect alcohol or drug use on the part of a driver from San Jose.

Ismael Mota Zavaleta, 30, also of San Jose, was arrested Sunday night after a crash near Upper Cottonwood Road claimed the life of a 66-year-old woman who the CHP said was a passenger in Zavaleta’s car. The woman, Rafaela Chavez-Olivera, died at the scene Sunday night.

Rob Parsons: 209-385-2482

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