7 farmers And 1 driver Dead After head-on Collision in California: Police Say

Scene of the van and pick up involving 8 people who died in California in head-on collision.

Authorities say eight men were killed in a head-on collision between two vehicles on Friday, February 23, in Madera, California.

California Highway Patrol reports that nine men were involved in the crash, but one passenger survived.

USA Today reports,

At approximately 6:15 a.m. the driver of a black Chevrolet pickup truck crashed into a GMC van carrying eight people after swerving in and out of the two-lane highway in Madera, about 25 miles northwest Fresno, police said. One passenger, seated in the rear of the van, survived the crash and was taken to a local hospital. He is expected to recover from his injuries.

The AP is reporting that only two people in the van were wearing seatbelts. “If they had been wearing their seatbelts, the rear passengers would have probably survived,” CHP Officer Javier Ruvalcaba said.

The men in the van were farmworkers headed to work at the vineyard where they were employed. The vineyard was about five miles away from where the crash happened, the Associated Press reports.

Another van followed closely behind them, driven by the wife of one of the farmers. The CHP reported that she witnessed the crash, according to news reports from Your Central Valley.

CHP says initial investigations suggest the pickup crossed over and collided with the van – killing the driver of the pickup and seven others in the van. When the crash took place, multiple men in the van were not wearing their seatbelts, officers say.

CHP says the wife of one of the victims in the van was following in another van immediately behind and witnessed the crash.

Reports from the Associated Press say a witness told police the pick-up truck was driving erratically.

A witness told police the black pickup truck was swerving in and out of its lane on a two-lane rural highway before crashing head-on with the van, Ruvalcaba said.

“At this point, we don’t know whether alcohol or drugs played a factor,” he said.

The farmworkers were about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the vineyard where they worked as pruners when the crash happened, Ruvalcaba said.

The van was headed to the farming community of Firebaugh, an area known for its vineyards and fields of tomatoes, garlic, asparagus and other vegetables.




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