Man killed in collision

DJ Becker/The Madera Tribune

Police collect evidence at the scene of a fatal motorcycle collision Thursday morning on Pine Street near Howard Road. Police have arrested the other driver on charges of felony vehicular manslaughter, and allege he was under the influence of cannabis at the time of the collision.


A motorcyclist in his mid 20’s was killed Thursday morning after a slow-moving pickup truck turned in front of him on Pine Street near Howard Road, according to Madera Police Sgt. Tom Burns.

The deceased’s name was not being released pending notification of family members in Chowchilla. He was taken to Madera Community Hospital were he was pronounced dead.

The driver alleged to have caused the collision, Cary Chaffin, 67, of Madera has been arrested on charges of felony DUI, along with vehicular manslaughter. Police allege he was under the influence of cannabis (marijuana) at the time of the collision.

“It’s the second vehicular related fatality in Madera this year — but it’s the first arrest for a cannabis related fatality.” Burns said.

“Chaffin was determined to be under the influence of cannabis by a DRE (drug recognition expert) officer, trained and experienced in administering a battery of tests recognizing all types of drug use. It doesn’t matter if it’s cannabis, prescription drugs given by a doctor, or any other (recreational) drug. If you use it and drive, you can be arrested for driving under the influence.” Burns said.

Witnesses said they heard the collision happen just before 8 a.m., and turned to see the demolished motorcycle and the rider underneath the red Ford pickup. The rider was unconscious and may not have been breathing well, according to bystanders.

The pickup had two small dents in the very front of the hood, and then damage to the lower right front fender as though the motorcyclist had turned at the last second and possibly tried to lay the bike down to avoid a direct collision, but was unable to stop.

Velvet Rhoads was just pulling up to work when she heard the crash, and ran over to help. ”Several people had stopped, one was a paramedic, I think. They were pulling him out from under the truck and taking his helmet off. I smelled gas, so I ran to get a fire extinguisher. What an awful thing to have happen,” Rhoads said.

Bystanders also said that when they called 911 they were briefly unable to get through, likely due to the high number of people coming upon the collision scene at the busy intersection and calling.

The driver of the pickup truck, Chaffin, had been northbound on Pine Street and turning into the CVS parking lot when he apparently didn’t see the southbound motorcycle,” according to Sgt. Burns. “The pickup driver stopped (after the incident) and had sustained minor injuries, and he had some difficulty breathing after the crash. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment and observation before being arrested.”

Burns said, “All drivers also need to use extra caution and watch out for motorcycles (especially this time of year), as they are out in force, and smaller and harder to see.” he said.

The motorcyclist was likely on his way to work in the area as several people who worked nearby told police they were familiar with green and white Kawasaki because it was frequently seen just before 8 a.m., going through the intersection and southbound on Pine at a high rate of speed.

The incident remains under investigation.