COAREGOLD – A couple on their way to a concert in Oakhurst this afternoon had their day abruptly interrupted when another car crashed into them near Serpa Canyon Road.
Randal Emerzian and Cheri Jeane Long, both of Fresno, were northbound on Highway 41 just north of Coarsegold in a blue 2006 Hyundai, when a tan Saturn SL, driven by Mike Stepke, 57, of Coarsegold began to swerve and lost control.
The Saturn, which was southbound at an unknown rate of speed, spun around and crossed into the northbound lane. The driver of the Hyundai could not avoid the collision, and the two cars crashed into each other, blocking both lanes of the highway.
A witness, who was out for a walk along the dirt road on the other side of the creek, heard the screeching of tires and turned to see the crash happen. L Beale says he ran up to the highway, called 911 and began directing traffic, trying to keep other vehicles from hitting the two cars blocking the road.
Other motorists got out of their cars and did their best to assist while everyone waited for CHP and EMS to arrive.
They had some experienced help at the scene, as recently retired CHP Sergeant Ed Greene, who was on his way to Fresno, happened to be just a few cars behind the southbound Saturn when the accident happened.
Madera County Fire Department Engine 12 and Squad 12 responded, along with Engine 8 and Sierra Ambulance.
The accident happened at about 1:42 p.m., and the road was blocked in both directions for nearly an hour as those involved were examined by EMS and prepared for transport. One-lane traffic control continued for another hour as the damaged vehicles were cleared from the scene.
Both drivers suffered minor injuries, according to CHP, and were transported by ground ambulance to Community Regional Medical Center.
The exact reason why Stepke lost control of his vehicle is unknown at this time, as he reportedly could not remember the moments immediately preceding the accident at the time officers spoke to him.
Southbound traffic was backed up halfway up Deadwood by the time Doc’s Towing removed the vehicles, cleaned the debris from the roadway and the scene was cleared.