• An SUV veered into the center of a highway and when the teen driver tried to steer back into her traffic lane, the vehicle rolled over and slid into oncoming traffic.
• The SUV hit an oncoming BMW, flipped and bounced onto the BMW’s hood, then rolled over and crashed into a guard rail.
• One of the SUV’s teen passengers died at the scene. The driver and other passenger suffered major injuries. No one in the BMW was seriously hurt.
California Highway Patrol Officer Scott Harris said a 2006 Jeep Wrangler driven by 16-year-old Katarina Pursifull of Visalia was traveling westbound on Highway 198 at the time of the accident.
The Jeep suddenly veered into the center median about three miles east of Road 180, according to a Visalia Times-Delta report. When Pursifull tried to get back into traffic lane, the Jeep swerved and then skidded through the median and started to roll.
Harris said the Jeep then slid sideways into the oncoming traffic lane, crashed into an eastbound BMW driven by 45-year-old Patricia Edwards of Exeter, flipped over, bounced on the hood of the BMW, and then rolled into a guard rail, where it came to rest. The occupants of the Jeep were trapped inside.
A 17-year-old boy who was riding in the back seat of the Jeep died at the scene. The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office later identified the boy as Nathan DeHaven of Visalia, according to the Fresno Bee.
Pursifull and her other passenger, 19-year-old Michael Gibson of Visalia, sustained major injuries. Pursifull was airlifted to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno. Gibson was taken by ground ambulance to Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia.
Edwards, who was driving the BMW, had her 1-year-old son Michael and 5-year-old daughter Mia in the car with her. She said she was shaken up and sore, but neither she nor either of the children appeared to be seriously injured. She later posted a statement on her Facebook page: “Want to give a BIG THANK YOU to the CHP officers, paramedics, DA, Sheriffs and passersby that helped me and my babies today.”
The CHP said all of the occupants of both vehicles were wearing seat belts. Alcohol was not suspected to be a factor in the accident.
County fire crews, Exeter police and fire departments, and ambulance services from Tulare, Exeter and Visalia responded to the accident. Traffic was blocked for more than two hours in both directions on Highway 198, the CHP said.
The fatal accident is under investigation.
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