7 children among 9 dead in fiery head-on California crash

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Nine people including seven children were killed in a fiery head-on collision on Highway 33 in Fresno County, according to the California Highway Patrol.

A 28-year-old man was traveling southbound on Highway 33 south of Sutter Avenue in a 2013 Dodge at the same time a 2007 Ford was headed northbound carrying eight people about 8 p.m., according to CHP. The vehicle models were not available.

The man in the Dodge allowed his car to travel onto the dirt on the side of the road for an unknown reason, CHP said, before over-correcting and traveling into the southbound lane. He was identified as Daniel Luna of Avenal by the Fresno County Coroner’s Office.

The vehicles collided head-on on the highway west of Avenal before the Ford burst into flames and came to rest off the highway, CHP said. The Dodge came to rest straddling both lanes.

The Ford was engulfed with flames when emergency crews arrived, CHP said. The vehicle only had five restraints for the eight passengers.

The cause of the crash was still under investigation, CHP said Saturday morning. No names of the occupants of the Ford had been released. A CHP news conference was planned for Saturday afternoon in Coalinga.

The Fresno County Coroner’s Office was working on identifying all of the victims, according to spokesperson Tony Botti. He said the driver of the Ford was an adult and all of the passengers were children.

“It looks like they’re two related families,” he said. “The ages are between 6 and 15 years old (for the) seven children.”

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