COARSEGOLD — A single-vehicle crash near Yosemite Springs Park ended in an arrest for suspicion of DUI this morning.
Just after 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 12, CHP began receiving calls of a reckless driver who was all over the road northbound on Road 400.
Minutes later, reports came in of a crash just north of Yosemite Springs Parkway. The vehicle was a 2004 Ford Freestar driven by George Merkel, 72, of Coarsegold.
It’s not clear exactly how the crash happened, but skid marks across both lanes of the roadway, a flat rear tire, and gouges 10 feet up the embankment on the east side of the road indicate it took several hundred feet for the vehicle to finally come to a stop.
There were empty bottles scattered throughout the interior of the van, and a 12-pack of beer on the passenger seat. There were no other occupants in the van at the time of the crash, and no other vehicles were involved. The Freestar appeared to have suffered only minor damage.
Once he was evaluated by Sierra Ambulance personnel, the driver was transported down the mountain for a blood test after being placed under arrest for DUI.
It was later determined that Merkel had sideswiped two vehicles on Yosemite Springs Parkway just prior to the crash on Road 400. Two victims reported that the van had come around a blind corner, in their lane, near Stetson Drive. The van swerved back into its own lane, but not before hitting the left rear quarter panel of one oncoming car, and clipping the mirror off another.
The accident remains under investigation.