Weekend accident leaves two dead

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By JOSHUA WOLFSON

The deadly string of car accidents in Tuolumne County continued yesterday when two people died in a head-on collision between a pickup and a mini-van on Highway 108.

Thomas Thatcher, 34, of Sonora and Windra Smail, 28, of Chinese Camp died at the scene near the junction of highways 108 and 49, the California Highway Patrol said.

Thatcher was driving east on Highway 108 about 5:10 a.m. when his 1990 Ford pickup slowly drifted into the westbound lane, the CHP said.

A truck traveling in the opposite direction managed to avoid Thatcher's vehicle, but a 1998 Toyota mini-van following behind did not, the CHP said.

The mini-van collided head on with Thatcher's pickup. Both vehicles were traveling between 55 and 60 mph near the time, the CHP said.

Smail, a passenger in the truck, was ejected and killed when it rolled on top of her, said CHP Officer Tom Wills. Thatcher was pinned inside.

Both of the truck's air bags deployed, Wills said, but neither Thatcher nor Smail was wearing a seat belt.

Authorities are still trying to determine why Thatcher's pickup drifted into oncoming traffic, Wills said. Investigators will be conducting a profile of the last 24 hours of Thatcher's life in the hope of gaining some insight into the accident.

Authorities discovered a 2002 citation for not wearing a seat belt in Smail's purse, the CHP said.

Fearing that the mini-van's driver, 37-year-old Sok Honn Touch, of Modesto, had suffered a broken femur in the wreck, rescuers transported her by helicopter to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto.

Doctors, however, determined her leg was not broken but bruised, Wills said, and she was later released.

Touch's two passengers, Dae Kie, 55, and Long Bun, 39, both of Modesto, suffered cuts and bruises and were taken to Tuolumne General Hospital for treatment. Both have been released, Wills said.

11506401
The Union Democrat
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