SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, CA - Three people lost their lives when the driver of a Jeep Cherokee on Interstate 5 near Walnut Grove lost control and veered into the opposing lanes where it collided with a VW Beetle Firiday morning.
Three people in the VW were killed. They were identified by the San Joaquin County coroner Friday afternoon as Vincent Cruz, 56, of Woodland (the driver); Monica Martinez, 53, of West Sacramento and Nadara Guerrero-Cruz, 42, of Woodland.
The victims were not wearing seatbelts, according to investigators with the California Highway Patrol.
The 23-year-old driver of the Jeep, first struck the back of a big rig ahead of her in the northbound direction, the CHP report stated. She lost control of her SUV, traveled across the grass median into the freeway's southbound lanes where it was hit head-on by the VW. The impact sent the VW down an embankment. The Cherokee came to a stop on the freeway before being struck by a semi traveling in the southbound lanes.
The driver of the Cherokee, Coleen Torres of Lodi, suffered major injuries. She was extricated from her vehicle and transported to San Joaquin General Hospital. Officers later arrested her on suspicion of driving under the influence and vehicular manslaughter.
The driver of the rig that struck the Cherokee was treated for minor injuries.
The collision was reported at 12:05 a.m. All lanes of I-5 were reopened by 3:54.