1 dead in first fatality of 2021
An off road drive under the influence of alcohol on New Year’s Eve went terribly wrong, according to the California Highway Patrol, and resulted in the death of a passenger and major injuries to another 17-year-old passenger.
Authorities say 28-year-old Ashton Wilfong of Friant was driving under the influence of alcohol shortly after midnight in a 1997 Dodge pickup truck off road near Road 206, west of the Millerton Lake area with four passengers, when she made an unsafe turn and lost control of the truck.
None of the occupants were wearing seatbelts, and the front passenger was partially ejected and crushed as the truck rolled and landed on its roof.
Jennifer Dawn Lundgren, 41, of Madera was pronounced dead at the scene. The 17-year-old back passenger was taken to Community Regional Medical Center due to the extent of their injuries. A 16-year-old and another 22-year-old passenger, Mylyn McCune of Fresno, were not injured.
Emergency dispatchers and first responders initially had difficulty receiving cell phone signals from the off road incident and in locating the scene of the fatality.
The incident and the earlier sequence of events that evening remain under investigation by CHP.
Officers say drivers are responsible for their passengers safety and the combination of no seat belts, alcohol and off-roading in the dark were a very deadly combination which could have easily killed more of the occupants inside the truck.
Wilfong was not injured in the rollover. She was arrested and charged with felony DUI, and gross felony vehicular manslaughter and booked into the Madera County Jail on $100,000 bail. Wilfong was released on bond a few hours later, according to records.