• December 14, 2022

Ayla Gonzales, Ray Rodarte Killed in Auto Accident on De Wolf Ave in Fresno County, CA

Fresno County, CA — December 10, 2022, 24-year-olds Ayla Gonzales and Ray Rodarte died in a collision with a tractor-trailer on De Wolf Avenue in Fresno County.

Authorities say the incident happened around 1:30 p.m. at the intersection of East North and De Wolf avenues. Preliminary investigation suggests Rodarte was driving a Nissan Altima on De Wolf when he stopped at the East North intersection. Investigators allege he then pulled forward but failed to yield to an oncoming 18-wheeler, which then hit the Altima in the intersection.

Gonzales and Rodarte were both fatally injured in the collision. No other injuries were reported.

The investigation is ongoing. No further information is available at this time.

Commentary on Ayla Gonzales, Ray Rodarte Accident in Fresno County

Reports suggest the victims were meant to yield to thru-traffic at the intersection where this wreck occurred. If that's accurate then it's important not to jump to any conclusions about why they might not have done so. There are still a lot questions that need answers: Did the Nissan have mechanical problems or defects that kept it from fully stopping? Was its driver in good health, or could he have had a medical emergency? Images of the intersection show possible orchards on 3 of the 4 corners--did those trees block the view of the approaching truck? Was signage present and clear at the intersection? How were weather and road conditions? Could the truck driver have done anything differently to avoid the collision?

Ayla Gonzales, Ray Rodarte Killed in Crash on De Wolf Ave in Fresno County, CA

I'm not trying to overcomplicate things or point fingers. Unusual factors are just sometimes overlooked, and crucial details that slip through the cracks can make big problems for victims and families in the aftermath of these serious crashes. For example, there was an incident in West Texas not long ago where someone allegedly ran a stop sign and fatally crashed with an 18-wheeler. Police said he was at fault, but we later learned that road crews actually removed the intersection's signs during construction. The victim didn't even know he had to stop, but until that critical detail was discovered he was unfairly blamed.

That was an unusual situation, but it's a good example of how many crashes aren't as simple as they seem. The victims deserve the benefit of the doubt while appropriate efforts are made to learn the full story. Will police be thorough enough to get it, or should someone else take another look?

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