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Slowing traffic triggers massive pileup
Multi-vehicle crash DSC_5250.jpg
Witnesses said they were amazed that the fuel tank didn’t rupture and catch fire in this vehicle that was spun around by the impact of the accident and others that had major rear end impact damage. - photo by GLENN KAL/The Bulletin
It seemed like a typical eastbound 120 Bypass accident as traffic nears the Highway 99 interchange.
A big rig truck slows for traffic ahead. Drivers — whether following too closely or not being attentive enough — slam on their brakes. Vehicles slam into each other. Five people suffer major injuries while three others sustain minor injuries.
But it wasn’t a 120 Bypass accident. It happened on northbound Highway 99 approaching the 120 Bypass on Wednesday afternoon. Slowing traffic, often coming to a stop, is happening more and more on Highway 99 as motorists try to move into one lane to head to the westbound 120 Bypass. Emergency personnel fear that Highway 99 northbound approaching the 120 Bypass could become as deadly as the 120 Bypass heading east.
Three ambulances were called to the scene with the first being dispatched from Manteca, the second from Ripon and the third from Manteca all responding to about 50 yards north of the Austin Road overpass.
Two of the five vehicles were damaged beyond description. The others had front end and rear end damage with a rebuilt Chevy pickup truck veering into the concrete center divider where the driver remained until medics could get to him.  A woman driving a small Chevy sedan had been sandwiched in her vehicle having crushing damage to both the front and back of her vehicle apparently saved from more serious injuries by the deployment of air bags.
Another sedan that had been spun around by the impact of another vehicle had the driver pinned behind the wheel. Firefighters had to cut out the side of his vehicle with the Jaws of Life.  A 2012 vintage Mazda catapulted off of the freeway lanes and through a roadside wire fence and into an open field after being rear ended by another car.  Firefighters removed the driver from behind the wheel and worked on his injured neck next to the twisted vehicle.
One witness said the multiple vehicle series of crashes occurred when a semi rig slowed for traffic ahead that triggered the collision with a car and a box truck and four other vehicles including a pickup truck.  Traffic was backed up into the city of Modesto by the crash with the Highway 120 Bypass being backed up for miles as well.  South bound Highway 99 motorists came to a stop out of curiosity backing up that section of freeway for a number of miles.

To contact Glenn Kahl, email