Driving in the Kaweah canyon, especially when roadways are wet, can be risky. Being unfamiliar with the curves and shoulders of Sierra Drive add to the odds of being in an accident.
On Saturday, Feb. 16, at 4:55 p.m., Cesar Vasquez, 47, of Los Angeles was driving westbound near Salt Creek Drive in his 2018 Chevrolet pickup. His vehicle drifted into the narrow dirt shoulder and careened down the embankment. After hitting a tree and severing a water pipe, the pickup came to a stop against a large boulder, only a few feet from the swiftly flowing Middle Fork of the Kaweah River below.
With assistance from other motorists who had seen the vehicle leave the roadway, Vasquez was able to get out of the truck and climb the steep bank to the highway.
After first responders had examined Vasquez, secured the area, and were directing traffic, the crash victim was interviewed and gave a statement to a CHP officer who received assistance at the scene from Kyle Stark, Three Rivers resident deputy.
Vasquez told the California Highway Patrol officer that he was driving westbound at 30 to 35 mph when he lost control on the slippery roadway. The CHP incident report stated that Vasquez was “uncooperative” and refused a DUI test at the scene.
The truck sustained major damage. The driver had a small laceration on his head and complained of internal pain in several places. He was transported via ambulance to Kaweah Delta Medical Center where he was treated for his injuries.
While at KDMC, Vasquez was served with a warrant and submitted to a blood test. He was charged with DUI and processed at Tulare County Adult Pre-trial Facility.