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6 people have died in car crashes near Cholame ‘Y’ in past 2 months

A two-vehicle crash about 7:45 a.m. Saturday, May 13, 2017, at the Cholame “Y” killed a 64-year-old Bakersfield man, according to the California Highway Patrol.
A two-vehicle crash about 7:45 a.m. Saturday, May 13, 2017, at the Cholame “Y” killed a 64-year-old Bakersfield man, according to the California Highway Patrol.

A fatal car crash Saturday marked the sixth traffic death near the intersection of Highways 41 and 46 this year — and the third in two weeks.

The two-vehicle collision about 7:45 a.m. Saturday at the Cholame “Y” killed 64-year-old Robert S. Villegas of Bakersfield, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Villegas was traveling west about 50 to 55 mph on Highway 46 in a Chevy Impala when 61-year-old Haneul Kyung Lee, who was driving east in her Honda Odyssey at an unknown speed, pulled into the westbound lane to turn north onto Highway 41, the CHP said. The Impala then struck the passenger side of the Odyssey.

Lee temporarily lost consciousness and reported pain in her neck and back, according to CHP Sgt. Clint Rutter.

Traveling in the Impala with Villegas was James L. Bray, 73, of Bakersfield, who was hospitalized with a fractured femur and punctured lung.

The crash remains under investigation. Rutter said the CHP has no reason to believe alcohol or drugs were involved.

“If anything, it appears as though she (Lee) just failed to yield to oncoming traffic,” Rutter said.

A CalStar helicopter was dispatched and CHP officers and responders from County/Cal Fire worked at the scene for several hours, limiting traffic to a single lane before all lanes were reopened at 10:23 a.m.

Since March, there have been six fatal crashes, including Saturday’s collision, near the Cholame “Y,” named for the shape made by the forking of Highways 46 and 41 east of Paso Robles:

March 17: Jocelyn Estela Carballovillalobos, 22, of Clovis, died in a head-on collision on Highway 41 near the “Y.”

March 31: Jesus Acebedo, 68, of Bakersfield, was killed in a five-vehicle crash on Highway 46 near the Shandon rest stop.

April 20: Cheryl Vanwettering, 37, of San Jose, died when she was ejected from the front seat a 2003 Itasca motor home in a crash at the “Y.”

April 30: Michelle E. Saunders, 71, of Seaside, died in a car crash on Highway 46 on the Antelope Grade just east of the “Y.”

May 9: Richard L. Lin, 29, of Manalapan, New Jersey, was killed after being ejected from his vehicle in a crash on Highway 46 just west of Lucy Brown Road.

Two Coalinga residents died April 2 in a crash on Highway 46 about 24 miles west of the “Y.” That crash, at Buena Vista Drive, killed Virginia Marie Stone, 78, and Lawrence Alphonso Lopez, 52.

Highways 41 and 46 near the Cholame “Y” have long been known as deadly stretches of road, and the intersection gained national attention after movie star James Dean crashed his Porsche Spyder there and was killed Sept. 30, 1955.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7929, @andrewsheeler

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