A schoolteacher was killed in a head-on collision on Highway 140 in Merced. (Photo: ABC News)
Fatal highway crash: A schoolteacher was killed Monday when her motorhome was slammed head-on by a pickup truck on Highway 140 near Merced.
• A pickup truck driver lost control on a rural highway and veered into oncoming traffic.
• The pickup truck crashed head-on into a motorhome with four people inside.
• The motorhome driver died at the scene. All three of her passengers were hospitalized,
The deadly accident occurred shortly before 1 p.m., according to a report in the Fresno Bee.
Authorities said a black Dodge Dakota pickup truck, driven by 51-year-old Planada resident Ninfa Contreras-Garcia, was traveling westbound on Highway 140 when it drifted onto the right (north) shoulder of the roadway.
Contreras-Garcia tried to get back onto the highway, but overcorrected and drifted into the oncoming traffic lane, where the pickup truck slammed head-on into an eastbound Toyota motorhome driven by 51-year-old Patricia Garske of Soquel.
Garske died at the scene, according to a report in the Merced Sun-Star.
There were three additional passengers in the motorhome. Two of them — 28-year-old Heather McAllister of Fremont and 16-year-old Xavier Hilton of Santa Cruz — suffered major injuries. McAllister was flown to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto. Hilton was flown to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto. The exact nature of their injuries was not released and their conditions were not known.
The third passenger, 16-year-old April Harlamoff of Soquel, suffered minor injuries. She was flown to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto to be treated. The nature and severity of her injuries was not known.
Contreras-Garcia, the driver of the pickup truck, suffered minor injuries and was transported via ground ambulance to Mercy Medical Center in Merced to be treated.
Why Rural Highways Are Extremely Dangerous
Only 23 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas, but 57 percent of all motor vehicle accident fatalities occur on rural roads, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The NHTSA’s latest figures show that the fatality rate per vehicle miles traveled was 2.5 times higher in rural areas than in urban areas.
A large majority of car accident deaths in rural areas — 67 percent — occur on highways, where the speed limit is 55 mph or higher. In urban areas, the opposite is true: 68 percent of all fatal crashes occur on roads where the speed limit is less than 50 mph.
Rural highways often are only two lanes, which presents significant danger to motorists who use the oncoming traffic lane to pass at high speed.
Finally, hospitals are few and far between in rural areas. The risk of dying on the way to the hospital is significantly higher in a rural accident than an urban one.
Merced Car Accident Lawers
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