O’NEALS – A single vehicle accident on Highway 41 backed up traffic for miles in both directions this afternoon and ended with an arrest for felony DUI.
At about 1:20 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 2, a Lincoln LS, driven by an undocumented 22-year-old Hispanic male was northbound on Highway 41 just north of Road 200.
The vehicle was on a straight stretch of road, just approaching the area where the southbound double lanes begin, when for unknown reasons, the driver drifted off the right shoulder and smashed into a large boulder in the embankment. The car then bounced back into the roadway, coming to rest in the northbound lane, facing south.
CHP Officer Lutz had just pulled over a motorist on the opposite side of the road when the crash happened. That lucky driver was sent on her way as Lutz hurried to check on the four female passengers in the wrecked vehicle, all of whom were under the age of 18.
Upon making contact with the driver, the odor of alcohol prompted a field sobriety test which led to the arrest of the driver for felony DUI. He was also arrested for inflicting bodily injury, as a 17-year-old passenger in the car suffered direct blunt trauma to her chest and was having a hard time breathing. She was transported to Valley Children’s Hospital by Sierra Ambulance.
There was another vehicle with persons related to this accident, traveling just ahead of the Lincoln, as the whole family was reportedly on their way to spend the day in Yosemite. That vehicle was not involved in the crash.
Madera County Engines 8 and 10, along with Squad 10, Cal Fire Engine 4275 and Battalion 4215 all responded to the scene. Engine 4275 was called away to respond to another emergency near Redinger Lake. There was also an incident involving a motorcycle at the same location on Highway 41. Apparently the driver laid his bike over while slamming on his brakes in an attempt to avoid the road blockage. He was reportedly not injured, and continued on his way.
Traffic was backed up for several miles in both directions for over an hour, and one-lane traffic control was put in place while the scene was cleared.