FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A faulty tire, extreme heat and an overloaded vehicle may have contributed to a Father's Day rollover crash that killed four members of Modesto family near Bakersfield.
The family was in a 2001 Ford Excursion SUV heading home from Northridge on Highway 99 when tread separated on the left rear tire. Driver Jose Castillo, 44, lost control in a 70 mph zone and the vehicle overturned, said Officer Robert Rodriguez of the California Highway Patrol.
Castillo and his son, Marcos Castillo, 17, suffered moderate injuries but survived. Both were wearing seatbelts. They are being treated at Kern Medical Center.
Estella Castillo, 63, was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the car, Rodriguez said. She died at the scene. Three others were wearing seatbelts and also died at the scene. The Kern County Sheriff-Coroner identified them as Juan Castillo, 11, Lino Castillo, 65, and Yolanda Castillo, 38.
The temperature at the time of the 2:51 p.m. accident was at least 108 degrees, but the officer said the asphalt on Highway 99 would have been much hotter. The car was carrying luggage and other personal items, Rodriguez said.
"It's why we say 'don't overload your vehicle before a long trip, and always check your tires,'" he said.
"Unfortunately, these things happen a lot, especially during hot summer months."
The CHP's major incident accident team is investigating the cause of the crash, but officers suspect that when the rear tire failed the driver braked, which would have caused the car to turn violently.
Drivers should try to keep a steady course when a tire blows, Rodriguez said.
"Try to ride it out, and then slowly merge over to the right. But never apply the brakes and never turn the steering wheel," he said.