By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
120 Bypass carnage continues
Deadmans Curve triggers domino crashes
Bowling truck DSC 7251
A truck tractor with two flatbed trailers, carrying sacks of cement, is on its side on eastbound Highway 120 just west of South Main Street after colliding with a pickup truck and two cars. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

Tragedy on the Highway 120 Bypass struck once again as yet another semi-truck and trailer collided with cars stopped in the eastbound lanes, just west of the South Main Street overcrossing.

Causing the routine daily stopped traffic that plagues the 120 Bypass every day afternoon and even during heavy weekend traffic was commute traffic slowing down and stopping while trying to move onto southbound Highway 99.

Dubbed “Deadman’s Curve” by some locals, the transition ramp backup is a factor in the bulk of the 120 Bypass accidents that occur at a rate of one every 1.7 days.

Elected city leaders have expressed concern that it will only get worse when the Highway 99 widening is completed between Arch Road and the 120 Bypass. That is when the transition lane will no longer flow into its own continuous lane on Highway 99 but will become a merge lane.

The domino-like collisions occurred at 4:36 p.m. Friday in the same area that another semi-rig collided with multiple vehicles about 100 yards east of the Main Street overcrossing seriously injuring a number of motorists who were on vacation from out of state.  It also occurred at commute time in the late afternoon.  It is common for motorists unfamiliar with the area - whether vacationing or truckers - to get caught off guard.

Friday it was a Freightliner tractor pulling two flatbed trailers loaded with sacks of cement that was estimated by highway patrolmen to be traveling at about 55 miles per hour when it clipped a Ford F-350 extended cab pickup truck driven by Julie Weisman, 54, of Montague, CA, as the motorist drove off onto the shoulder in an attempt to avoid serious injury.  Weisman and her passenger were shaken but unhurt in the crash.

A silver Mazda sedan took the brunt of the force as the big truck ripped out a guard rail critically injuring a 27-year-old Modesto woman who had to be extricated from her vehicle by firefighters with the Jaws of Life.  She was transported to a trauma unit in Modesto with two fire medics traveling with her in the ambulance.  A maroon Isuzu was also pushed into the guard rail and spun with the careening truck for some 150 feet down the freeway into the number one lane as the semi-tractor and the front trailer flipped over onto its side.

The driver of the big rig, Evaristo Duran, 58, of Granada in Merced County, was uninjured in the series of collisions.  The driver of the Isuzu, Jorge Lopez, 39, of Modesto received minor injuries, according to the CHP, also transported to a Modesto hospital.   The truck came to rest against an emergency freeway telephone on the shoulder of the roadway.

The eastbound traffic was closed initially before one lane was allowed to go through after about an hour.  The investigation later required both lanes to be closed and traffic was detoured off the freeway.  Westbound traffic also slowed to a crawl as motorists were attempting to look at what had happened across the freeway from them.

The last fatal on the Bypass was in August. That accident also involved traffic stopping due to Deadman’s Curve.