Five people—including a 6-year-old boy and an adult bicyclist—were killed in separate traffic accidents in San Benito and Santa Clara counties in less than a week, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Two of the accidents occurred Sunday, Feb. 25 in the Hollister area, and were reported less than an hour apart. One of these resulted in the arrest of an allegedly intoxicated driver on a homicide charge in connection with the death of his 6-year-old son, who was a passenger in his father’s vehicle, according to police.
About 5pm Feb. 25, authorities responded to a single-vehicle accident on McCloskey Road, just east of San Felipe Road.
The Highway Patrol reported that Jesus Mora, 30 of Hollister, had been driving a GMC Sierra westbound on McCloskey Road with two children in the front seat, when he drifted “completely off the roadway onto the dirt shoulder” of the roadway, according to a press release from the CHP Hollister-Gilroy area office. The driver lost control of the vehicle and slammed into a wooden utility pole.
Police said Mora allegedly swerved off the road “due to his level of intoxication.”
The collision resulted in fatal injuries to Mora’s 6-year-old passenger, who was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics, according to the CHP press release. The other child, a 7-year-old boy, was flown to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center with major injuries.
At the scene, Mora referred to the two young boys in the vehicle as his children, according to CHP Officer Chris Miceli.
The San Benito County Sheriff’s Office later identified the boy as Camillo Mora-Valles, of Salinas.
Mora, the driver, suffered minor injuries in the accident and was transported to Hazel Hawkins Hospital in Hollister, according to police.
Mora was arrested on suspicion of murder and driving while intoxicated, causing bodily injury. He was booked into the San Benito County Jail, according to police.
Motorcyclist pronounced dead
Less than an hour earlier on Feb. 25—about 4:10pm—authorities responded to a collision in which an SUV struck a motorcycle, resulting in a motorcyclist’s death, according to CHP.
That accident took place at the intersection of SR 156 and San Felipe Road in Hollister.
A 43-year-old Gilroy man, later identified as Michael Gonzalez, was driving a 2015 Harley Davidson motorcycle with a 29-year-old female passenger, also of Gilroy, on the back, according to police. The driver of the motorcycle was stopped at a red traffic light in the left turn of SR 156, poised to turn onto northbound San Felipe Road.
A 2005 GMC Sierra, driven by a 66-year-old Hollister man, was approaching the intersection on southbound SR 156 at about 50 mph. For an unknown reason, the motorcyclist began making a left turn onto San Felipe Road while the traffic light was still red, police said.
After entering the intersection, the motorcyclist began applying the vehicle’s brakes in an effort to avoid colliding with the approaching GMC, according to police. The Gilroy man was unable to avoid a collision with the SUV.
As a result, the Harley Davidson driver suffered fatal injuries upon impact, and was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. His passenger suffered major injuries and was transported by air ambulance to Natividad Medical Center.
Authorities do not think alcohol or drugs were a factor in this collision. The accident is under investigation.
Single-vehicle death on Pacheco Pass
Another single-vehicle accident resulted in the driver’s death Feb. 24 on SR 152 in eastern unincorporated Santa Clara County east of Gilroy, according to the CHP.
About 2:10pm, a 49-year-old Monterey woman was driving a 2014 Ford eastbound on SR 152 (Pacheco Pass), with a 49-year-old female passenger in the vehicle, police said.
For an unknown reason, the driver turned the vehicle to the right, causing the Ford to leave the roadway, travel across the right shoulder and collide with a tree, police reported. The collision occurred just east of Lake Road.
The driver of the vehicle suffered fatal injuries, and was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. The Santa Clara County Coroner’s Office identified the driver as Krista Evers. The passenger suffered minor injuries and was flown to San Jose Regional Medical Center.
Authorities do not think alcohol or drugs were a factor in the accident, which is under investigation.
On Monday, Feb. 26, CHP issued another press release urging motorists to drive with caution in response to the unusual cluster of three traffic fatalities in the area in one weekend. The release advises residents to “drive safely and courteously at all times,” obey traffic laws and slow down because “speed is a factor in most collisions.”
Furthermore, officers reminded residents not to drink and drive. In 2016, more than 1,800 people were killed in California in accidents in which alcohol was a factor, according to the CHP.
“While any loss of life is tragic, a loss of life resulting from something preventable is especially troubling,” the Feb. 26 press release states. “Most traffic collisions are preventable.”
Cyclist struck by Toyota
The recent rash of fatalities began Feb. 19, when a Cupertino bicyclist died after a collision with a Toyota just south of Hollister, according to police.
The accident occurred about 5pm. A 2001 Toyota, driven by a 40-year-old San Lorenzo man, was traveling northbound on SR 25 just south of Cienega Road, according to a CHP press release.
The 65-year-old cyclist, riding a Trek bicycle, was traveling on SR 25 in the same direction as the Toyota, when the bigger vehicle approached from behind, according to police.
The Toyota collided with the bicyclist “due to the unsafe speed of” the Toyota, police said.
The collision caused the cyclist to be ejected from his bicycle before hitting the asphalt roadway, according to CHP. The Toyota stayed at the scene, where authorities pronounced the cyclist dead.
The cyclist was identified as Jonathan Kaplan.
The driver of the Toyota suffered a minor cut to his finger, according to police. Three passengers in the Toyota were uninjured.
It “does not appear” that alcohol or drugs were a factor in this accident, according to police. The accident remains under investigation.
Fatality on Shore Road
The latest fatality reported by CHP occurred north of Hollister the afternoon of Feb. 26.
About 3:12pm Feb. 26, a 52-year-old Hollister man was traveling eastbound on Shore Road west of San Felipe Road in a 1995 Chevrolet S-10, according to a press release from the CHP Hollister-Gilroy office.
For an unknown reason, the driver allowed the vehicle to travel across the westbound traffic lane and onto the north shoulder of Shore Road. The vehicle collided with two trees before coming to rest, police said.
As a result of the collision, the driver suffered fatal injuries, according to the CHP.
Police do not think alcohol or drugs were a factor in the collision, which is under investigation.
The San Benito County Sheriff’s Office identified the driver as Steve Lawrence.
Anyone with information about these accidents can call CHP at (408) 848-2324.