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CHP: Driver in Cholame crash crossed into oncoming traffic, faces felony charges

hwy 46 crash 3 1-31-22.jfif
Posted at 1:23 PM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 17:36:04-05

UPDATE (2:34 p.m.) - The California Highway Patrol has identified the man killed in the crash as David Alan Schulte, 60, of Exeter.

ORIGINAL STORY: CHP has released additional information about a crash that killed one and injured four along Hwy 46 in Cholame on Monday.

A driver has been arrested for suspected DUI after officials say he crossed into oncoming traffic, hitting two vehicles and a trailer. Another driver swerved to avoid the crash and went down an embankment.

According to the Templeton area CHP, at about 12:05 p.m. on Jan. 31, Jose T. Morales was heading west along Hwy 46 in a GMC Yukon, east of Bitterwater Rd. when he crossed the double-yellow lines into the eastbound lane of traffic.

Morales, 44, of Parlier, side-swiped a Jeep Grand Cherokee hauling a flatbed trailer heading east along the highway. Morales's vehicle then collided head-on with a Dodge 3500 truck. The driver of the Dodge was killed upon impact, officials say, and the truck came to rest on its wheels in a field.

Morales's vehicle flipped in the crash and landed on its roof in the shoulder.

The Jeep's trailer detached and blocked both east- and westbound lanes of traffic, and the driver of a Toyota Tacoma swerved to avoid the crash, heading down and embankment and hitting a barbed wire fence.

Officials have not yet shared the name of driver killed in the crash but identified him as a 60-year-old male and a resident of Exeter. A passenger in the Dodge, Melissa Buchanan, 53, also of Exeter, was airlifted to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center for treatment of moderate injuries.

Morales suffered minor injuries in the crash and was taken to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center before he was released and booked into the San Luis Obispo County Jail.

Morales faces charges of felony DUI, driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.10% or more causing injury and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. His bail is set at $100,000.

The driver and passenger in the Jeep were identified as Donald D. Erwin, 88, and Scott P. Erwin, 55, of Lake Isabella. Both suffered minor injuries.

CHP officials say the driver and passenger in the Toyota, Daniel Horovitz, 35, and Bianca Lyrio, 28, both of San Diego, were reportedly uninjured in the crash.

The stretch of Hwy 46 where the crash occurred is up for expansion, Caltrans officials announced on Jan. 28. The highway is set to be widened from two to four lanes in the area.