SHANDON — On Monday, March 5 the California Highway Patrol Communication Center received a report at 5:47 a.m. of a head-on collision at the Shandon Rest Area on State Route 46. Per the California Highway Patrols report, when units arrived, the road was blocked between the rest area and Lucy Brown Road. At this location, both directions of travel utilize what will eventually be the westbound lanes on the northernmost portion of SR 46. The collision involved four vehicles, three of which were semi-trailer combinations.
Wesley Lake, 63, from Laton, was driving westbound in his 2013 Freightliner Semi and allowed his rig to cross over into the eastbound lane of traffic. He sideswiped an oncoming 2013 Freightliner Semi and double trailer combination, driven by Ysidro Martinez, 25, from Santa Maria, fully loaded with cardboard.
Following the initial impact, the Freightliner semi, driven by Lake, continued going west in the eastbound lane as Martinez’s Freightliner semi continued eastbound, eventually into the westbound lane, colliding with a 2015 International semi-truck driven by Juan Rodriguez, 29, of Bakersfield. Martinez semi hit the left rear axle of Rodriguez’s rig.
The first semi, driven by Lake, continued westbound in an eastbound lane and collided into the path of a Ford Expedition. The Ford Expedition was driven by Eric Jennings, 52, and his passenger, Erin Jennings, 48, both from Visalia. The left front of Lake’s semi collided with the left front of the Jenning’s Expedition, causing major front-end damage and the Expedition to spin into the westbound lane. The Expedition finally came to a rest blocking the lane.
Lake’s semi came to a rest in the eastbound lane of the SR-46 between the rest area and Lucy Brown Road. Martinez’s semi came to rest blocking the westbound lane of SR-46. Rodriguez’s semi came to rest on the shoulder of westbound SR 46.
The driver and passenger of the expedition, the Jennings, sustained major injuries. They also had three dogs in the vehicle and one of them died as a result of injuries sustained in the collision.
The newly-paved portion of SR 46, within the construction zone, was used by the California Highway Patrol for traffic control with the assistance of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office and Caltrans personnel.
The cause of the collision is under investigation. Alcohol and drugs do not appear to have been contributing factors.