COARSEGOLD — A two-vehicle crash blocked the southbound lane of State Route 41 just before sunrise Monday.
At 5:49 a.m., reports came in of a head-on collision just north of Road 417. The caller also advised that one vehicle was smoking. The first fire engine there reported a Ford F350 utility van fully engulfed in flames.
According to California Highway Patrol, the F350 was northbound on SR 41 and was passing a slow-moving crane truck when it encroached over the broken yellow lines into oncoming traffic. A couple from Coarsegold was southbound on their way to work at a Valley hospital in a Toyota Tacoma. When the driver saw the van headed toward him, he tried to move to the right to get out of the way, but was unable to avoid the head-on collision.
Both vehicles came to rest on the west shoulder of the road. The driver of the van was able to get out of the vehicle, which then caught fire and was completely destroyed.
Both occupants of the Toyota — an engaged couple in their late 20s to early 30s, CHP said — were transported to Community Regional Medical Center with unknown injuries. According to CHP, the woman works in the emergency room at that same center.
Cal Fire Engine 4295 responded along with Madera County Fire Engine 8, Caltrans and Sierra Ambulance.
Firefighters quickly got control of the fire, and one-lane traffic control was put in place for about 90 minutes as the accident was investigated and the scene cleared.
The F350 van was owned by Pacific Coast Tree Experts out of Canoga Park, Calif. The driver was the only occupant of the vehicle at the time of the crash and was also transported by ground ambulance to CRMC with unknown injuries.
The accident remains under investigation.