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1 killed in deadly collision

DJ Becker/The Madera Tribune What’s left of a wrecked 1997 Honda Civic sits in the impound lot at the Madera Police Department, after it was struck head on at a high speed fatal collision Saturday morning on Tozer Street just south of Knox Street. The car was struck by a pickup truck driven by Mario Santos Perez, who turned 21 the day of the collision, and whose records show he has four previous arrests for DUI since turning 18. Perez was uninjured in the crash and was arrested on charges of gross vehicular manslaughter.


A Madera man lost control at the wheel of a pickup truck at high speed and struck another vehicle head on, killing that driver on Tozer Street just south of Knox Street, on the southeast side of the city, according to the Madera Police Department.

Officers arrested Mario Santos Perez, who turned 21 the day of the Saturday morning collision, at the horrific scene. Perez was charged with gross vehicular manslaughter, probation violations, and driving with a suspended license. Arrest records show four local previous arrests for Perez on charges of DUI since turning 18, and one other arrest for possession of narcotics. He is currently being held on $85,000 bond.

Authorities identified 27-year-old Rafael Castaneda of Madera, as the man killed in the collision. An initial field sobriety test given by police appeared to indicate Perez had not been drinking alcohol the morning of the collision. Other toxicology reports are pending.

Perez was uninjured and declined to speak to officers, instead requesting a lawyer, according to witnesses.

Sgt Mark Trukki said Perez was northbound on Tozer just before 7 a.m., in a black Dodge Ram pickup truck when for unknown reasons he crossed directly into oncoming traffic at high speed and struck the 1997 Honda Civic, pinning that badly injured driver behind the wheel.

“It appears Perez failed to maintain his lane at the slight curve just before Knox, likely due to speed ... when he struck the other vehicle head on,” Trukki said.

The force of the impact caused the two vehicles to spin out, littering the roadway with debris for several hundred feet on either side of the crash. The speed of the collision and other contributing factors remain under investigation, but officers measured approximately 140 feet of skid marks at the scene. Distracted driving is also being considered as a factor in the crash.

Fire crews used the jaws of life to cut Castaneda out of the badly damaged Honda and began life saving procedures, but he died a short time later at the scene.

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