A 36-year-old Ceres woman sustained major injuries and her passenger killed when she illegally passed a truck – allegedly while intoxicated – and struck other cars east of Oakdale early Tuesday.
The California Highway Patrol said Erika Linja of Ceres will be charged with felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter in the aftermath of the crash that occurred at approximately 5:20 a.m. on Highway 108 east of Lancaster Road.
Emergency personnel arrived to find four damaged vehicles and a dying man lying on the roadway.
The CHP’s preliminary investigation indicates Linja was driving her 2003 Chevrolet SUV eastbound when she crossed over a set of double yellow lines to pass an eastbound 2009 Freightliner tractor driven by Jorge Moreno, 35, of Planada. Her car sideswiped a 2001 Honda sedan driven by Antonio Cardenas, 54, of Turlock, coming from the opposite direction. When the two cars made contact, Linja lost control and reentered the eastbound traffic lane before proceeding into the westbound lane, directly in front of a 2014 Ford utility truck driven by Jeffery Serrano, 52, of Sonora. The two vehicles collided, causing her unrestrained passenger to be ejected onto the roadway. Linja’s Chevrolet reentered the eastbound lane where it was struck by the front of the Freightliner she was attempting to pass.
Linja was rushed by Medi-flight to Memorial Medical Center for treatment of major injuries. Linja was arrested for DUI and vehicular manslaughter.
Serrano was taken by ground ambulance to Doctors Medical Center with minor injuries. Neither Moreno or Cardenas were injured.