MADERA COUNTY – A three-vehicle collision on Highway 41 yesterday has claimed the life of a Coarsegold man, and caused injury to two others.
Ronald Lee Wells, 73, was southbound on Highway 41 just north of the 22-Mile House just after 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Apr. 15, near an area known locally as the Rocky Cut.
For unknown reasons, Wells allowed his 1987 GMC Sierra Classic pickup to drift into the opposing lane and into oncoming traffic, according to CHP.
Wells’ vehicle crossed the double yellow lines, into the path of Elsie Perez Morin, 63 of Oakhurst, who was northbound in a 2014 Kia Soul.
This section of the highway has minimal shoulder space, and though Morin tried to move to the right to avoid the oncoming pickup, she had nowhere to go, and was sideswiped by the truck. This caused her to lose control of her vehicle, and she collided with the dirt and rock mountain.
The pickup continued along southbound in the northbound lane, where it crashed head-on into a 2014 Acura RLX driven by Robin Jeanne Blossom, 64, of Coarsegold, and occupied by a passenger, Beatty Jane Sitton, 68, also of Coarsegold.
Ronald Wells sustained fatal injuries as a result of the impact, and was pronounced deceased at the scene.
Morin did not report any injuries during her evaluation by EMTs.
Both Blossom and Sitton suffered blunt force trauma to the chest and legs, and were transported with moderate and major injuries to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.
Blossom was taken by ground ambulance, and Sitton was airlifted by SkyLife air ambulance, which landed in the highway for the transport.
At this time, it is undetermined whether alcohol or distracted driving was a factor in this collision, which remains under investigation.
Everyone involved was wearing a seatbelt.
Highway 41 was closed down for two hours as emergency personnel tended to the victims and CHP officers conducted their investigation.
(photo by Shawna Oxford Glazener)