Collision cuts van in half killing driver

By Reggie Ellis

A Verizon employee was killed on Friday when his company van collided with a fully-loaded silage truck in front of Hilarides Dairy, just north of Avenue 242 on Road 188.

The driver of the 1998 Dodge maintenance van, George Wallen, 49, of Corcoran was traveling southbound on Road 188. The 1973 silage truck was backing onto the road from a dirt path running alongside the dairy. According to California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Walker, it was the driver's first day on the job and he had made a wrong turn onto a private dirt road alongside the dairy while looking for another dairy on Road 188.

The report said the truck paused and then continued into the road. A witness said the van was unable to avoid the truck and swerved to the left at the last minute. The van struck the right rear of the truck, was torn in half and then rolled on its side skidding to a halt. Walker said the van was less than 75 feet from the truck when it pulled out. No visible damage was done to the silage truck, which weighs about 35,000 pounds fully loaded.

Wallen was a Verizon employee who worked out of the Exeter office. He was on his way to a repair call when the accident occurred around 9 a.m.

According to the California Highway Patrol, Wallen was not wearing a seatbelt and was pronounced dead upon impact. The driver of the silage truck, a 71-year-old Hanford man, was taken to Kaweah Delta Hospital for observation. The driver said it was his first day on the job and that he did not see the other vehicle coming. According to the witness speed was not a factor in the wreck. No arrests were made, but the driver of the truck may face a misdemeanor charge of involuntary manslaughter.

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