SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A San Francisco family was in mourning after a fatal crash along Interstate 5 killed a father and left three other family members in the hospital.
The crash happened just before midnight Friday near Buttonwillow in Kern County just west of Bakersfield. The CHP reports a 21-year-old driver from San Francisco was taking his family southbound along I-5 when he got sleepy and drifted, ran over the rumble strips which woke him up, over-corrected and ended up crashing into the center divide, flipping the car over.
Several people were thrown out of the car. The 47-year old father, Javier Garduño, was killed.
A 13-year-old girl and a 49-year-old woman suffered major injuries, the CHP reported. The driver was also hospitalized with moderate injuries.
Police said the driver was wearing his seatbelt, but the passengers who were ejected from the vehicle did not have their seatbelts fastened.
A crash the previous day at 4 a.m. also happened near Buttonwillow, not far from the first wreck.
The CHP reports a 19-year-old woman told police she had been driving all night and thinks she fell asleep before the crash.
A 20-year-old passenger who did not have her seatbelt fastened was killed.
“These are tragic situations and also a stark reminder of the importance of seatbelts,” said CHP Officer Adam Taylor, who added that drivers on the long stretch of highway from Northern to Southern California often get drowsy along the way.
“We see travelers from the Bay Area all the time and a lot of them are sleepy drivers,” Taylor said.
“We encourage drivers to use those rest areas to take a break and make sure you are awake when you are driving,” he added.
Police said it did not appear that either driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The Garduños live in North Beach district of San Francisco. Olga, Javier’s wife, is a well-known daycare provider.
According to a GoFundMe page, extended family members are helping the Garduños by raising money to help with expenses.
In a statement on the GoFundMe page, a family member wrote about Javier, “My family didn’t just lose a father, son, brother and friend but we also lost a kind, loving person who was good to everyone, whom God called home too soon. He loved his family very much and we all suffer his loss.”