At about 1:15 p.m., CHP received reports of a white SUV weaving in and out of traffic northbound on Highway 41 from SR-145.
Just minutes later, new reports began coming in — this time of a multi vehicle crash just south of Road 200 near Road 406.
One caller reported that the white GMC Jimmy had swerved into their lane and hit the vehicle behind them. The GMC sideswiped a southbound Kia Optima, and then crashed head-on into a Honda Insight, pinning its two occupants inside, according to CHP.
Firefighters used the Jaws of Life to free those trapped in the Honda, and SkyLife One and CHP’s H40 helicopter both responded and transported the two victims to Community Regional Medical Center. The passenger is reportedly in critical condition, and the driver suffered what was reported as moderate injuries.
The driver of the Kia was transported by ground ambulance to Kaiser Medical Center with unknown injuries, and was accompanied in the ambulance by her passenger, who was not seriously injured, according to CHP. Both the Kia occupants and those in the Honda are from Fresno.
As traffic began backing up in both directions, CHP and Caltrans closed down Highway 41 southbound at Road 200, detouring motorists onto Road 211 and south to Road 145. Northbound traffic was re-routed east to Road 211 at SR-145.
The driver of the GMC, Jose Huerta-Plaza, 30, of Madera, who was the subject of the “Be On the Lookout” report just before the crash, was taken into custody on charges of felony DUI causing injury to others, and transported to Madera County Department of Corrections. He is being held on a $25,000 bond.
Plaza reportedly told officers he had been drinking at a friend’s house, and doesn’t remember what happened.
Just after 3 p.m., as the last of the damaged cars was being loaded onto a tow truck and the roadway was nearly ready to be reopened, a call came in of another crash on CA-41, this one just south of Highway 145.
As vehicles were being diverted due to the road closure near Road 406, traffic was backing up approaching the intersection of CA-41 and SR-145.
One driver, reported to be a female approximately 20 years old, didn’t stop in time to avoid hitting the car ahead of her which was stopped for the backup, and the force of that crash caused her car to overturn, coming to rest on its roof about 30 feet off the roadway.
No one was injured in that crash, save a few scrapes and bruises, according to CHP.