HANFORD, Calif. (KGPE) – Two young girls and a man were killed in a massive crash Thursday night between Hanford and Corcoran on Highway 43, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The crash happened at about 6:30 p.m. near Highway 43 and Nevada Avenue.
The CHP says a man in his 40s was driving 100 mph heading northbound in a Toyota 4Runner when he collided head-on with a father and his three children traveling southbound in a Chevy Tahoe, killing himself and two girls in the Tahoe aged 11 and 16.
Samantha Alvarado of Corcoran says she was just fifty yards or so from the crash when it happened. And said she could have been involved in the accident too had she not slowed down ahead of time.
“I thought to myself this guy is not going to slow down, he’s not slowing down,” Alvarado said. “Next thing you know, I couldn’t see him anymore. That was because he had crossed over into the southbound lane, into my lane, and hit the vehicle in front of me,” explained Alvarado.
Alvarado says the 4Runner then flew into the air and rolled over on the side of the road, and burst into flames. Alvarado says the Tahoe carrying the father and 3 children was heavily damaged, and went down into a ditch on the West side of Hwy 43. Alvarado recounts how other eyewitnesses attempted to help both cars, but the flames of the 4Runner were too intense.
“I can see the man in the vehicle that was on fire, he was on fire, he was able to get out of the car, but he couldn’t make it any further than just to lay next to the vehicle,” Alvarado said.
According to CHP Hanford Officer Derek Saldana, excessive speeds on a curve is a recipe for disaster.
“There’s no need to be going 100 mph,” Saldana said. “To negotiate that curve, I don’t know, this all could have been avoided.”
Saldana says people should call 911 if they see dangerous speeding. For Alvarado, she hopes the community can learn from this tragedy.
“Please pay attention to how you drive. Don’t drive fast, please do the speed limit,” she said. “Because Highway 43 is only a two-way street, and anything can happen at any moment.”
As of of Thursday night, the father, who is in his forties, and 9 year old younger brother of the two girls remained in critical condition. CHP says updates on their condition won’t be released at this time.
Toxicology reports are pending and are being handled by the Kings County Coroner’s Office.