A Merced man is facing criminal charges for allegations that he was drunk when he crashed the family vehicle in Turlock, resulting in the death of his wife. Four young children in the vehicle were not injured, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The suspect was identified as Luis Rodriguez, 35, of Merced. The deceased is his wife, though her name has not been released at this time. She was 31 years old from Merced.
The single vehicle collision happened around 10:40 p.m. Thursday on Highway 99.
Rodriguez was driving a 2016 Ford Explorer southbound on the highway. Just south of Monte Vista Avenue, Rodriguez lost control of the vehicle and it traveled off the highway.
As the SUV went down an embankment it overturned before colliding with a metal chain link fence. It came to a stop on its roof.
The Merced woman was not wearing a seat belt, according to the CHP. She was ejected from the vehicle during the rollover and died at the scene.
Rodriguez was also not wearing a seat belt and sustained a broken femur and a broken arm, the CHP reported. He was extricated from the vehicle by Turlock firefighters, who then had to carry him up the embankment to a waiting ambulance. He was taken to Memorial Medical Center for treatment, where he remains. He was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence.
The four children — ages 6 months and 1, 2 and 3 years old — were all properly restrained in the vehicle. They were taken to area hospitals as a precaution, but did not sustain any injuries.
The CHP suspects alcohol was a factor in the collision.
Turlock Fire responded to the incident with three engines, Squad 32 and a battalion chief. Three ambulances from AMR and multiple CHP officers were on scene as well. An air ambulance also arrived on scene, however, was canceled prior to landing as all of the patients were transported by ground transport.