VISALIA, Calif. (KGPE/KSEE) – A three-car collision near Visalia occurred due to a tire tread separation – causing the vehicle to lose control and collide with the highway wall, according to the CHP.

On Tuesday at around noon, officers received a call of a crash on the northbound 99 highway, south of Avenue 384, with medical personnel responding. Officers from the California Highway Patrol (CHP) Visalia area say they responded to the scene.

CHP says the initial investigation indicates a 1998 Toyota, a 2021 Lexus, and a 2018 Chevrolet were all traveling on northbound Highway 99, south of Aveneue 384 – all at approximately 70 mph.

CHP says as the vehicles continued northbound, the Toyota experienced a tread separation to the left rear tire. The tire remained inflated and on the rim, but the tread separation caused the Toyota to veer into the center median, where the front of the Toyota collided with the concrete median wall. The driver of the Lexus was unable to react in time to safely avoid the Toyota. As a result, the Lexus driver applied the vehiele’s brakes and turned to the left, where the front of the Lexus collided with the rear of the Toyota.

Due to conflicting and inconsistent statements, CHP officers say it is unknown if the Toyota overturned before or after it was struck by the Lexus. As a result of these collisions, the Chevrolet was struck by unknown flying debris from the Toyota or Lexus.

After the crash, CHP says the Toyota came to rest on its left side, facing southbound, straddling the first and second lanes of the northbound Highway 99. The Lexus came to rest in the center median and the Chevrolet initially came to rest in the northbound first lane but was moved to the right shoulder of the northbound highway, according to CHP.

Officers say the driver of the Toyota was transported by helicopter to a local hospital with major injuries. The driver and passenger in the Lexus were also transported to a local hospital.

Officers say alcohol is not believed to be a factor in this crash.