Eucalyptus tree falls, kills two on hwy 99

A eucalyptus tree falls from the median, lands on a Ford F-150 causing four car collision, kills two 

TULARE COUNTY – Highway 99 was closed for over three hours as emergency crews cleared the downed tree and began the subsequent investigation.

On Jan. 10, at approximately 5:55 a.m., the Fresno Communications Center received several calls of a multiple vehicle crash which occurred on northbound Highway 99 north of Betty Drive near the township of Goshen. It was dark and windy with moderate rainfall as officers from the California Highway Patrol Visalia Area Office were dispatched to the scene to investigate. 

The preliminary investigation revealed an unknown male, determined to be approximately 30 years old, was driving a 2014 Ford F-150 on Highway 99 northbound, north of Betty Drive in the number 1 lane. A 53-year-old male from Cutler was riding his 2004 Honda VTX1300 motorcycle next to the Ford F-150 in the number 2 lane. Joanna Aldana Oliva, 32, was driving a 2006 Toyota Avalon in the number 1 lane behind the Ford F-150, and Huriel Rodriguez, 49, was driving a 2019 Ford F-550 behind the Toyota. 

Due to the windy conditions and saturated ground from recent storms, a eucalyptus tree fell from the median and landed on top of the Ford F-150 and the Honda motorcycle. The Ford F-150 was disabled due to the impact, and the rider and motorcycle skidded along the roadway and came to rest in the traffic lanes north of the downed tree.

Aldana Oliva attempted to avoid the tree by merging into the #2 lane while Rodriguez drove into the dirt median. Both vehicles struck the downed tree and became disabled. Due to the impact with the tree, the driver of Ford F-150 and the rider of the Honda motorcycle were killed. Highway 99 northbound was closed for over three and one-half hours as emergency crews cleared the downed tree and for the subsequent investigation. 

The cause of this crash is still under investigation. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) reminds people to avoid traveling during adverse weather conditions if possible. If travel is necessary, CHP reminds individuals to drive at a safe speed, increase following distance, utilize low-beam headlights, remove all distractions, and always wear a seatbelt.

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