Two people were seriously injured after a collision that involved four vehicles — three of them big rigs — on Highway 46 near the Shandon rest area on Monday morning.
About 5:50 a.m., authorities received a report of a head-on collision near the rest area, according to the California Highway Patrol.
One of the big-rig drivers, 63-year-old Wesley Lake of Laton, California, was driving a 2013 Freightliner tractor-trailer westbound on Highway 46, the CHP said.
The vehicle crossed into the eastbound lane of traffic, where it sideswiped a 2013 Freightliner tractor-trailer being driven eastbound on Highway 46 by 25-year-old Ysidro Martinez of Santa Maria, according to the CHP.
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Following impact, Lake’s big rig continued going westbound in the eastbound lane and Martinez’s big rig continued eastbound, the CHP said. Then, Martinez’s big rig crossed into the westbound lane and crashed into the left-rear axle of a 2015 International tractor-trailer driven by 29-year-old Juan Rodriguez of Bakersfield.
Martinez’s big rig came to rest on its wheels blocking the westbound lane of Highway 46 as well as the westbound shoulder of the road, the CHP said. Rodriguez’s big rig came to rest on the westbound shoulder of Highway 46.
Lake’s big rig, still traveling the wrong way in the eastbound lanes, entered the path of an eastbound 2012 Ford Expedition, the CHP said. The left-front of Lake’s big rig collided with the left-front of the Expedition, causing major front-end damage to the Expedition.
The force of impact caused the Expedition to spin into the westbound lane and come to rest blocking the lane, the CHP said. Lake’s truck came to rest on its wheels blocking the eastbound lane of Highway 46 between the Shandon rest area and Lucy Brown Road.
The driver of the Expedition, 52-year-old Eric Jennings of Visalia, and his passenger, 48-year-old Erin Jennings of Visalia, suffered major injuries and were taken to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo, the CHP said. Three dogs were in the car with Jennings, and one of the dogs died as a result of the crash, the CHP said.
Highway 46 was closed after the crash but was reopened about 12:20 p.m., according to Caltrans. The newly paved portion of the highway, which was within a construction zone, was used for two-way traffic Monday morning.
The cause of the collision is still under investigation, but alcohol and drugs do not appear to be contributing factors, the CHP said.