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Deadly weekend: Teen burns to death Saturday; woman killed by train Sunday
ACCIDENT 120 BYPASS1 9-15-14
Manteca Fire Capitan Kyle Shipperd, left, looks over the charred shell of the car that was rear-ended on the 120 Bypass Saturday. See additional photos on Page A7. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

A front seat teen passenger in her grandmother’s late model Mercury Sable died in a horrific car fire on the Highway 120 Bypass near Highway 99 shortly after 3 p.m. Saturday.

 The teen’s grandmother was pulled from the flames by a pair of heroes from the nearby Paseo Villas apartments that scaled a sound wall and ran onto the freeway following the sound of the crash.

One of the men was an off-duty Lodi police officer.  The flames were reportedly so intense that they could not rescue the girl who was described to be 16 or 17 years old.  Both victims were from Modesto.

The grandmother was airlifted by REACH helicopter to the burn center at U.C. Davis Medical Center in Sacramento where she is listed in critical condition with extensive burns. The woman was rescued by the two men from the apartment complex who were seen scaling a concrete block wall next to the freeway to reach the burning car.

Woman walking on

tracks killed by train

Then midday Sunday, a woman described as being in her mid-30s was struck and killed by a northbound 51-car Union Pacific Freight Train near the Walnut Avenue crossing in Manteca.  Witnesses said she seemed to be casually walking down the tracks as the approaching train crew repeatedly blew their horn and hit the emergency brakes. They were unable to stop in time.

Deadly 120 Bypass crash

near Deadman’s Curve

The engulfed eastbound car on the Highway 120 Bypass was hit from the rear by a Dodge Caravan midway between Main Street and Highway 99 where heavy Sunday afternoon traffic was backing up on the roadway as traffic approached “Deadman’s Curve”, the transition from the Bypass to southbound Highway 99. Eight people have died in the same stretch of eastbound 120 during the past six years. There have also been more than 300 injuries during the same time period on the Bypass with most of them on the stretch of eastbound freeway between Main Street and Highway 99.

What typically happens are drivers aren’t paying attention to traffic slowing down to make the transition or else someone cuts in front of the traffic heading toward Ripon at the last second causing a chain reaction.

 “The car was hit so hard from behind that it just erupted into fire – it just burst into flames,” Manteca Battalion Chief Kyle Shipperd said of Saturday’s fatal accident. 

The driver of the van was reportedly from France.  His front seat passenger in the vehicle was transported by ambulance to San Joaquin County Hospital in serious condition, according to the chief.  He added that the response of the REACH helicopter crew was unbelievable – arriving on the scene within 12 minutes of his request for their service.

Emergency personnel completely closed down both directions of the freeway to create a landing zone for the helicopter near four of the city fire trucks on the scene.  The eastbound lanes remained closed for three hours.  Manteca Police had assisted by closing off the on ramps to the freeway.

Three trapped in I-5

rollover Sunday in Lathrop

Early Sunday evening the Lathrop-Manteca Fire Department responded to a single car rollover on I-5 south of Louise Avenue where three people were reported to have been pinned in a sedan.  A lone ambulance coming on the accident scene stopped and pulled two of the victims from the car.  Firefighters arrived to extricate the final passenger, according to Battalion Chief Don Jones.  All four were taken to San Joaquin General Hospital for treatment of moderate injuries, the chief said.

Earlier in the afternoon a one-year-old boy had reportedly fallen down stairs inside the family home in Lathrop.  A fire department spokesman said he was transported to San Joaquin General Hospital in French Camp where he was held for evaluation of his condition.