Nine people were killed in Fresno County, California, late Friday after an SUV collided head-on with a pickup truck, the state’s highway patrol said.
The crash occurred around 8 p.m. after a 28-year-old man driving in a Dodge swerved across Highway 33’s centerline, ramming into a Ford truck carrying eight people, the patrol said, adding that it was unclear whether drugs or alcohol had played a role. Seven of the eight people in the truck were 15 years old or younger, local authorities said.
“It looks like they’re from two related families,” said Fresno County Coroner spokesperson Tony Botti, according to the Fresno Bee. “The ages are between 6 and 15 years old (for the) seven children.”
The crash was in western Fresno County. https://t.co/LuvoTsmYFO
— Fresno Bee (@FresnoBee) January 2, 2021
The driver of the SUV was identified by the Fresno County Coroner’s Office as Daniel Luna, the Fresno Bee reported. The collision caused the pickup truck to become “fully engulfed in flames,” officials told the Los Angeles Times, instantly killing all eight passengers as a result.
Capt. Kevin Clays of California’s Highway Patrol said that the truck was only equipped with six seatbelts, meaning that the chance of serious injuries in the wake of a crash was “far greater.”
“It’s tragic for the community,” he said during a news conference regarding the crash, according to the LA Times. “It’s tragic for our officers that respond to these incidents.”
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