COARSEGOLD – A single vehicle accident on Highway 41 at Serpa Canyon Road this evening led to traffic backups and then, as the accident was being cleared, to another crash.
Tyler York, 26, of Fresno, was on his way down the mountain from his job at the Tenaya Lodge just after 6 p.m. on Friday, May 30, when he failed to safely negotiate the corner at Serpa Canyon.
York was southbound on Highway 41 when he apparently drifted over into the gravel on the right shoulder coming out of the curve, then over-corrected and crossed back across both lanes of traffic and plunged over the steep embankment on the east side of the road.
His Toyota Camry crashed down into the trees and brush and came to rest upside down against a tree about 40 feet down off the roadway.
A friend who also works at the Tenaya saw the whole thing happen in his rear view mirror, and immediately turned around and went back to help.
“I just saw him make a complete left turn, then disappear off the road,” said a co-worker named John. “Once I saw the car down there, I expected him to be really messed up.”
York, however, was able to get out of the car and make his way up to the roadway, suffering some pain to one arm and complaining of difficulty breathing.
His airbag deployed and a branch actually stabbed through the windshield of his car. All the windows were shattered except the two on the passenger side.
Bulldog Towing hooked up to the Camry and pulled it up onto the roadway, as the northbound lane was blocked and CHP implemented traffic control, allowing one lane through at a time.
As officers directed traffic through the accident scene, motorists didn’t seem inclined to negotiate the area at a reduced rate of speed. CHP repeatedly indicated to drivers that they needed to slow down and pay attention to directions, but it seemed a futile effort.
Just as the tow truck driver was working to secure the Toyota for the trip to Oakhurst, a loud crash was heard nearby.
Jesus Gastelum, 42, of Fresno, had slowed to make a left turn onto Serpa Canyon Road when he was struck from behind by a Nissan Altima driven by Andrew Diaz, 26, of Madera.
The drivers were able to move their vehicles out of the roadway, and then the occupants got out to assess the damage.
Immediately all the emergency responders repositioned themselves to deal with this new crash. CHP officers stopped traffic as the Bulldog tow truck driver and even the CHP Sergeant on the scene grabbed brooms and began to sweep the debris from the latest crash out of the roadway. Many drivers didn’t even bother to wait for that to happen, they drove right over the smashed tail lights and went on their way.
Several Cal Fire Battalion Chiefs returning from the Hunters Fire in Mariposa County stopped along the roadway to offer assistance. Sierra Ambulance and Cal Fire Engine 3564 also responded to assess any injuries sustained during the second crash.
There were four passengers in the Town Car, including children, and one adult female was transported to St. Agnes complaining of pain.
While officers gathered information and interviewed those involved, Doc’s and Bulldog Towing removed the damaged vehicles from the scene.
Alcohol was not determined to be a factor in either accident.