CLOVIS – A woman attempting to pass a fire engine on the right side in an intersection, hit the large truck, causing it to roll over and injuring all five firefighters on board.
At 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 12, a Stanislaus National Forest Fire Engine was eastbound on Highway 168 approaching Shepherd Avenue at about 55 mph. The wildland fire engine, which was providing additional fire suppression coverage for the Sierra National Forest, was traveling from their hotel to the High Sierra Ranger District in Prather.
A 2015 Kia Sorento, driven by Maria Constable, 53, of Fresno, attempted to pass the fire truck on the right in the middle of the intersection at Shepherd and Highway 168. She hit the right front wheel of the fire engine with her driver’s side door, effectively side-swiping the big truck.
The impact of Constable’s car against the driving wheel of the big truck caused the steering wheel to be jerked in the fire engine, and the driver to lose control, causing it to veer off the road where it rolled four times, coming to rest on its right side in an empty field.
The driver of the Kia also lost control and left the roadway. The vehicle rolled over twice and landed on its roof.
Most of the firefighters are from the mountain area, including Derek Soden, 29, of Mariposa; Lee Sands, 37, of Groveland; Ben Jongerward, 32, of Groveland; Ryan Baker, 28, of Yosemite; and Brittany Dowden, 29, of Madera.
Soden and Sands were seriously injured, according to CHP, and were transported to Community Regional Medical Center. Jongerward suffered moderate injuries, and Baker and Dowden’s were noted as minor by the investigating officer. All three were taken to St. Agnes hospital.
The driver of the Kia suffered only minor injuries and was not transported for treatment.
The accident remains under investigation.