A chain reaction crash Saturday night at the Yosemite Avenue and Main Street intersection in downtown involving two cars and an ambulance sent three people to Manteca area hospitals and closed the 100 block of West Yosemite Avenue to traffic for about an hour.
One man who witnessed the collisions shortly after 9 p.m., said he was sitting at the light facing north on Main Street when he heard the oncoming siren of the ambulance and saw its emergency lights activated.
He and another witness – who had been standing on the sidewalk in front of a nearby bar – both said they saw the westbound ambulance slow for the intersection to about 35 miles an hour when it was struck broadside by a southbound Honda that was estimated to be going at least 45 miles per hour as it T-boned the emergency vehicle.
After the initial impact the ambulance reportedly careened into a ‘90s Dodge mini-van sitting in the turn lane waiting to turn left onto North Main Street. The impact of the ambulance drove the stationary vehicle some 20 feet back from the limit line and the crosswalk. The occupants included a woman passenger who was reported to be four months pregnant and three small children.
Driver of the southbound vehicle, Parker Harris, 18, of Manteca and his passenger were both transported by ambulance – one to Doctors and the other to Kaiser. The woman passenger in the Dodge mini-van, Alma Arguellas, was also transported to Doctors.
The driver of the ambulance was Brian Chiara, 34, and the driver of the mini-van was Ricardo Arguellas, 32, of Manteca. Neither was visibly injured in the crash. The other ambulance medic also escaped injury
The City of Manteca was the first city in the region to install its city-wide Opticom sensors on traffic lights to allow emergency vehicles to switch the signal lights from red to green in their direction for an added degree of safety for them as well as for the motoring public. It occurred after a fatal police chase in the 1980s when a Manteca police unit pursing a suspect T-boned a vehicle at Union Road and Center Street killing the motorist.
Witnesses to the crash said the ambulance driver had the green light as he entered the intersection before the impact occurred. None of the injuries appeared to be life threatening, officers said.