Seven children and two adult drivers were killed in a fiery collision on a stretch of a rural highway in Fresno County, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Officer Rory Marks, a spokesman for the CHP, said officers were sent to a crash on Interstate 33 south of Sutter Street around 8 p.m. and arrived to find the Ford car – which was carrying all the children – “completely engulfed in flames.” .
Marx said that all of the victims were declared dead at the scene. Nothing was revealed publicly until Saturday.
A preliminary investigation and rebuilding based on physical evidence at the scene indicated that a 2013 Dodge car driven by a 28-year-old man from nearby Avenal was heading south on Interstate 33 when it veered onto the dirt western shoulder for an unknown reason, Marx said.
Marks said the driver then “over-corrected”, and the Dodge traveled back through the southern lanes and into the northbound lanes, where it collided directly with a 2007 Ford car driven by a woman.
Ford stopped at the dirt eastern shoulder, as it caught fire, as Dodge stopped on both sides of the highway heading north and south.
“When the fire was extinguished, it was discovered that 8 passengers were in the Ford vehicle,” says the CHP crash report.
Vehicle models are not provided. Ford only had six seat belts.
Marx said the cause of the crash and whether drugs or alcohol played a role is still under investigation. The report indicated that the speed of the two cars was not specified, and that the weather at that time was “clear and dry.”
He said that the seven children who were killed were “of varying ages.” He said that their identities, as well as the identity of the drivers, will be released pending identification and reporting of the family.
Marx said the CHP is asking anyone who may have witnessed the incident to contact law enforcement.
Marx said, “We do not have any witnesses to this, except for those who came to it.” “We are looking for help if anyone knows anything.”