Crash closes SR99


For The Madera Tribune

A wrecked car sits facing the wrong direction on southbound SR 99 after the driver failed to stop for slowing traffic on Tuesday morning. A multiple vehicle collision briefly closed both sides of the north and southbound lanes and snarled traffic all the way from Madera Avenue to Avenue 12.

Numerous traffic collisions snarled traffic and briefly closed both north and southbound lanes of State Route 99 about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday as a series of drivers failed to stop for slowing traffic and accidents ahead, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Distracted driving and speed are being investigated as causes. No serious injuries were reported.


Damaged vehicles were found spun out, scattered and smoking on all sides of the both lanes of the busy north south route.


Traffic was backed up and briefly at a stand still from Madera Avenue all the way to Avenue 12 as officers and tow trucks worked to clear the multi-vehicle pile up. Vehicles that could detour from SR 99 flooded surface streets causing traffic jams on normally quieter city streets as drivers unfamiliar with the area attempted to follow their navigation apps.


The southbound fast lane was closed for several more hours as an emergency repair and replacement was made to the center guardrail.


Officers urge motorists to slow down, limit distractions and pay attention to traffic slowing ahead of you, especially in construction zones or when traveling on unfamiliar sections of roadway.


La Vina woman shot, killed on Thanksgiving


Madera County Deputies responded to a 911 call after a woman was found shot in the driveway of a home in the 23000 block of Uvas street in the community of La Vina. Attempts to aid the unresponsive woman by deputies were unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead at the scene. The incident happened at about 11:32 p.m. Thanksgiving evening.


Authorities identified the woman as Stephanie Salceda-Ceja, 23, of La Vina.


Authorities said it appears Salceda-Ceja was shot while driving in her vehicle, a red 2020 Honda Civic, on Avenue 9 near the community of La Vina at the time of the shooting. The motive for the murder remains under investigation.


The Sheriff’s Office is asking for anyone with information about this incident to call 675-7770 and ask to speak with Detective Padgett or Detective Gutierrez.


Valley Crime Stoppers at 498-STOP, also pays up to a $2,000 cash reward for any information leading to an arrest and conviction in a crime, called into their tip line or made on their website. You can remain anonymous.


Man struck, left for dead in hit-and-run


A 46-year old man was walking when he was hit by a vehicle and left for dead along the side of Firebaugh Boulevard just south of Avenue 12. The incident remains under investigation but is believed to have happened the evening of November 13 or very early the morning of the 14, according to Lt. Robert Blehm, of the Madera County Sheriff’s Department.


Authorities identified the victim as Clifford Henry Thomas, IV, and are now asking for the public’s help in identifying the driver that killed him. Thomas, a military veteran, was originally from Calaveras, California and was reportedly struggling with homelessness, but had been staying off-and-on with family and friends in Firebaugh at the time he was killed. Thomas’ body was seen several feet off the shoulder of the roadway laying in brush by a passing motorist. He was wearing dark clothing when he was found.


An early joint investigation by the Sheriff’s Department and the Coroner’s Office ruled out homicide by other means and turned the case over to the California Highway Patrol for further investigation when the injuries and the cause of Thomas’ death were determined to be from being struck by a vehicle.


Officers said while the vehicle that struck Thomas is currently unknown, it would likely have significant front end damage, either to the front fenders, mirrors, bumper and even possibly the windshield. CHP investigators are working to identify the make and model of the damaged vehicle from evidence left at the scene, and match that evidence with a national database of manufacturers’ paint and automobile parts.


Anyone with information on the fatal incident or a similarly damaged vehicle please contact the Madera area office of the California Highway Patrol at 675-1025. If you are calling outside of regular business hours, please call the Merced Communications Center at (209) 356-2900.


Valley Crime Stoppers at 498-STOP, pays up to a $2,000 cash reward for any information leading to an arrest and conviction in a crime, called into their tip line or made on their website. You can remain anonymous.


Police seek public help in theft attempt


Police are looking for the identity of a woman who allegedly took off in a 2011 black Dodge 200 sedan while the driver briefly stepped away from the car and left the keys in the ignition.


The incident happened about 10:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, at the Chevron gas station on south Madera Avenue.


According to authorities the incident was not considered a carjacking as the owner may have had some passing acquaintance with the woman, but the owner did report his vehicle as stolen. The car has a license plate of 8JWP704 and has not been found.


Madera police Lt. Josiah Arnold said no force was used in this incident, but cautioned drivers to never leave vehicle keys in ignitions, or leave vehicles running — while loading or unloading or even in their own driveways.


“You’d be surprised at just how often this happens (locally).” Arnold said. “It only takes a second. Just don’t risk it.”


If you know who this woman is, or have any information, please call us at 675-4220 or send us a direct message. As in all cases, callers can remain anonymous.” he said.

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