On December 30th, 2018, at approximately 10:44 am, the Merced CHP Communication Center received a report of a collision on West 16th Street, south of SR-99. CHP units responded to the scene and it was determined a 2015 Ford Fiesta was traveling southbound on West 16th Street when its driver, a 43-year-old male Atwater resident allowed his vehicle to leave the east roadway edge and collide head-on with a concrete support pillar.
The driver was the only occupant. The collision resulted in his vehicle becoming fully engulfed in flames. The driver was pulled from the vehicle by passing motorists. According to witnesses, the vehicle had been traveling at approximately 70 to 75 MPH prior to striking the concrete pillar.
No other vehicles came into conflict with the Ford Fiesta. No braking or evasive actions were observed by the driver. Although CPR was performed on scene by officers, the driver was pronounced deceased at 10:50 a.m. The West 16th Street off-ramp from southbound SR-99, as well as the West 16th Street to southbound SR-99 on-ramp, was closed due to the collision.
Caltrans responded to the scene to assist with traffic control and inspection of the concrete support pillar. At approximately 12:51 the roadway was back open.