A 28-year-old Turlock driver was killed Thursday afternoon southwest of Ceres when he passed another vehicle and collided head-on into a tractor-trailer rig.
The crash occurred at approximately 2:16 p.m. on West Grayson Road, just east of Shiloh Road.
Kevin Mendoza, 28, of Turlock was pronounced deceased at the scene.
According to the California Highway Patrol the crash caused both Mendoza’s 2017 Dodge Ram pickup and a 2017 Freightliner tractor he struck to burst into flames. Raul Moreno, 44, of Modesto, the driver of the Freightliner, was able to get out of his cab and miraculously escaped injury.
Investigating officers said Mendoza was eastbound on W. Grayson Road just east of Shiloh Road when he crossed over the solid double yellow lines to pass another vehicle only to collide with Moreno’s big-rig coming from the westbound direction. The impact sent both vehicles in a southwesterly direction before coming to rest in the eastbound lane and catching fire.
It is unknown if Mendoza was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol at the time of the collision and officers were unable to determine if he had been wearing a seatbelt.
W. Grayson Road was shut down between Laird Road and Shiloh Road. A detour was put in place with minimal delays to the motoring public.
The CHP issued a reminder to all drivers that passing in an unsafe and illegal manner can have deadly consequences.