Three people were killed and seven others seriously injured Tuesday when a pickup truck ran a stop sign and collided with a Tulare County work crew van just outside of Porterville, about 22 miles south of Visalia.
• A pickup truck ran a stop sign on a rural highway and collided with a van transporting a juvenile work crew.
• The vehicles collided and tumbled off the highway.
• The pickup truck driver and two of the teens died at the scene. Five others were hospitalized with major injuries.
California Highway Patrol Lieutenant James Swearingen said 37-year-old Porterville resident Juan Reyes was driving a J & W Tire Service pickup truck north on Road 152 when he arrived at the intersection of Highway 190 (Poplar Avenue) and ran the stop sign there.
At the same time, a Tulare County Probation Office van hauling a small trailer was headed eastbound on Highway 190. The van was transporting a juvenile work crew back to the probation office in Porterville after a community service assignment in Earlimart.
When Reyes ran the stop sign, the van wasn’t able to avoid slamming into it. The van T-boned the pickup truck and the impact sent both vehicles off the road and into a nearby cornfield.
Five passengers were ejected from the van. Two of them — 15-year-old Deshawn Moore and 17-year-old Ingrid Coronel, both of Porterville — were pronounced dead at the scene, as was Reyes.
Seven others sustained major injuries.
Two of the juveniles — 15-year-old Abel Auntunez of Lindsay and 16-year-old Robbie Hernandez of Porterville — were airlifted to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, where they remain in critical condition.
The van driver, 45-year-old Darrel Fitzgerald Drone of Lemoore, and four other juveniles — 17-year-old Sonny Gutierrez of Lindsay, 15-year-old Pablo Rodriguez, 17-year-old Edgar Saucedo and 15-year-old Reynaldo Millan, all of Porterville — were transported via ground ambulance to Kaweah Delta District Hospital in Visalia, where they remain hospitalized.
“They were probably working off community service, trying to pay their debt to society one way or another and then they are involved in an accident where they are killed or seriously injured,’ Visalia CHP public information officer Scott Harris told the Visalia Times-Delta. “It’s really sad.”
Tipton resident Eddie Martin, who lives on Road 152 near the intersection, said he’d seen six fatal accidents there in 20 years.
“When you’ve seen as many as I’ve seen here, it’s not surprising,” Martin said. “People know my corner as the bad corner. But the corner is only as bad as the people [who] drive here.”
The accident is still under investigation. The CHP said drugs and/or alcohol don’t appear to be a factor.
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