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Fiery Highway 99 Fatal Collison Illuminates DUI Dangers



An unidentified Selma woman died after her car was rear-ended Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, on Highway 99 in an alleged DUI collision. (Shutterstock)
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Valley residents are again reminded not to drink and drive after a suspected drunken driver allegedly caused the death of a 28-year-old Selma woman late Friday night.

Officers from the California Highway Patrol arrested Jose Lopez Gracida, 25, of Fresno, following a rear-end collision on Highway 99 near Clovis Avenue.

According to the CHP, Gracida’s 2021 Toyota RAV4 rammed into a disabled 2001 Mitsubishi Galant blocking the middle lane of northbound 99.

Car Engulfed in Flames

“The Mitsubishi caught fire and quickly became fully engulfed. The driver of the Mitsubishi was unable to exit and succumbed to their injuries,” the CHP report stated.

The dead woman has yet to be identified by the Fresno County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office because of the extent of her burns, spokesman Tony Botti said Monday.

Gracida suffered moderate injuries and was taken to a hospital. Upon his release, the CHP said, he will be charged with vehicular manslaughter while under the influence of alcohol.

Officers suspect that the Mitsubishi was involved in an earlier crash, causing it to block the middle lane.

Tie One On for Safety Campaign

The fatal accident occurred less than 12 hours after the CHP and Mothers Against Drunk Driving hosted a news conference in Fresno calling attention to the dangers of drinking and driving.

The CHP says that the holiday season is a particularly dangerous time to travel because of a surge in drunken drivers.

If you drink, call for a ride or plan ahead and team up with a designated sober driver.

During last year’s 54-hour Christmas Day maximum enforcement period, the CHP said that at least 28 people were killed in vehicle crashes in the state. During that time, CHP officers arrested 362 people for suspected DUI.

In addition, at least 29 people were killed in collisions during the agency’s New Year’s Day maximum enforcement and 510 people were arrested for alleged DUI.

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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