The death of a 64-year-old Bakersfield man in a Saturday morning two-vehicle collision at the intersection of Highway 41 and Highway 46 — known as the Cholame “Y” — marks the sixth traffic fatality at that location in 2017, and the third in two weeks.
The man, whose name has not yet been released, was traveling west on Highway 46 in a Chevy Impala along with a 73-year-old male passenger also from Bakersfield. The collision occurred at 7:47 a.m. when a 61-year-old woman driving her Honda Odyssey east on Highway 46 pulled into the westbound lane in an attempt to turn north onto Highway 41. The Impala then struck the Odyssey on the passenger side.
The driver of the Impala was killed in the collision and his passenger hospitalized with a fractured femur and punctured lung. The Fresno woman temporarily lost consciousness and reported pain in her neck and back, according to California Highway Patrol Sgt. Clint Rutter.
The accident remains under investigation, including the reason why the woman pulled into oncoming traffic.
“If anything, it appears as though she just failed to yield to oncoming traffic,” Rutter said.
However, Rutter said the CHP has no reason to believe alcohol or drugs were involved.
A Cal Star helicopter was dispatched and highway patrol officers and responders from CAL Fire San Luis Obispo and the San Luis Obispo County Fire Department worked at the scene for several hours, limiting traffic to a single lane before all lanes were reopened at 10:23 a.m.
The infamy of the Cholame “Y,” so named for the shape made by the forking of Highways 46 and 41 east of Paso Robles, extends back decades, and the intersection gained national notoriety when movie star James Dean crashed his Porsche Spyder there and was killed on Sept. 30, 1955.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story had incorrect information regarding the number of fatalities near the Cholame "Y" so far this year.