Two women from Chowchilla were killed when the car they were passengers in was struck by a driver who failed to stop at stop sign at the intersection of Avenue 24 and Road 22, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Gregoria Gudino Vargas, 45 and her sister Martina Gudino Vargas, 50, were in the back seat of a 2005 Saturn the night of Aug. 19, traveling eastbound on Avenue 24 about a mile from home when their car was struck broadside about 6:15 p.m. by a Toyota Rav4 SUV that was northbound on Road 22.
The Saturn sedan had the right of way, and was struck at about 55 mph, and spun into a power pole before it overturned.
The two women, who family members said were inseparable, were pronounced dead at the scene. The driver and front passenger of the Saturn sustained major injuries and were airlifted by helicopter to Community Regional Medical Center.
The rented Toyota was driven by United Kingdom resident Agnelo Dsousa, 55, who was visiting California with his wife and two sons in their 20s. The Toyota spun but landed upright. The Dsousas sustained major to moderate injuries and were also taken to Community Regional Medical Center.
It is not known what the Dsousas were doing in the remote area just east of the twin prison complexes, with Dsousa saying only they were trying to reach the Mariposa area.
Officers say Dsousa was likely unfamiliar with the area and rural intersections, and it is not the first incident of foreign tourists being lost or routed on to secondary rural roads by GPS or other navigation systems.
CHP officer Greg Rodriguez said there had been other similar collisions.
“We’ve had numerous crashes this summer with other tourists from the Netherlands and other countries. Same thing.” he told news crews.
The collision remains under investigation. Alcohol or other impairment does not appear to be a factor at this time. The driver, Agnelo Dsousa, had a valid license for California and could face charges in the double fatality.
The conditions at the time of the collision were clear and dry.