A violent early morning crash on Tuesday, Jan. 13 claimed five lives, with four people pronounced dead at the scene of the crash at Highway 4 and Van Allen Road in Farmington, and one more dying at a hospital.
Officials on scene said visibility was limited due to fog, which was believed to be a contributing factor in the crash.
Farmington Fire Department was dispatched to the call at 6:56 a.m., said Chief Conni Bailey, with the first units arriving on scene at 7:05 a.m.
“Matt (Fire Department Captain Matt Bailey) immediately called an MCI alert,” Chief Bailey said of arriving on scene and realizing the vehicles involved were heavily damaged and mass casualties were likely.
“Visibility going out to the call was about 100 feet,” Chief Bailey added. “As the call went on, it got denser, to where you couldn’t see 20 to 25 feet in front of you.”
CHP and San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department had multiple units on scene. CHP spokesman James Smith out of the Stockton office reported five fatalities out of one vehicle, with day laborers traveling in a Chevy van listed as the victims.
According to officials on scene, the van was northbound on Van Allen Road approaching the intersection with Highway 4. At the same time, a Nissan pick-up was headed eastbound on Highway 4 and struck the van broadside as it entered the highway off the side road. It’s unknown if the van stopped at the posted stop sign at the intersection.
The van rolled over onto the shoulder of the roadway, while the truck ended up on the west side of Highway 4.
“We had eight total patients,” said Chief Bailey, including two in the pick-up truck and six in the van.
All five fatal victims were in the van and authorities said it appeared no one was wearing seatbelts. Officials also said both drivers appeared to be unlicensed.
Four victims were pronounced dead at the scene, one more died at an area hospital. One additional person in the van was listed as an ‘immediate’ patient with major injuries, while the driver and passenger in the pick-up had relatively minor injuries and were classified as ‘delayed’ patients.
“We did traffic control at the scene for the CHP and were able to keep one lane open,” Chief Bailey said of maintaining traffic flow – though slowly – along Highway 4. “We requested an engine from Collegeville and one from Linden to help.”
No identities of the victims were available at press time on Tuesday afternoon; though the victims were all reported to be adult males, day laborers likely on their way to a job site in the area. The accident remains under investigation and conditions of the others injured in the crash were not readily available.