COARSEGOLD – The mountain area woman who died in a head-on collision on Highway 41 on Wednesday has been identified as Bertha Doran, 72, of Bass Lake.
Doran was a passenger in a 1997 Chevy pickup headed north on Highway 41 just south of Serpa Canyon Road at about 8 p.m. last night. Her husband Bethel, 74, was at the wheel.
Billy Thornton, 29, of Coarsegold, was southbound at the location in a 2004 Mercury Grand Marquis. Due to his level of intoxication, he allowed his vehicle to veer to the left across the solid yellow lines, and directly into the path of the Doran’s pickup, according to the CHP.
Though Doran attempted to avoid the collision, the two vehicles hit head-on in the center of the highway. Bertha Doran sustained fatal injuries, and was pronounced deceased at the scene. Both drivers’ injuries were minor.
Bethel Doran and Billy Thornton were transported to Community Regional Medical Center, where Thornton was placed under arrest for Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated, and Felony DUI causing injury or death. He is being held on $100,000 bond at the Madera County Jail.
Thornton was arrested in 2011 for inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant, threatening crimes with the intent to terrorize, and assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm. (photo is 2011 booking shot)
Highway 41 was closed for over two hours as the victims were attended to and scene was cleared.