Details emerge in fatal wreck

Christina O'Haver, The Union Democrat

A woman badly injured in a head-on collision west of Sonora last week, which left two others dead, is recovering at a Modesto hospital.

Laura Zahm, 57, of Jamestown, was in "fair" condition Thursday afternoon at Memorial Medical Center. A patient in fair condition is conscious and has stable vital signs.

Zahm suffered multiple broken bones.

Zahm's longtime friend Jan Opie on Thursday said she has a "long road ahead."

California Highway Patrol is still investigating the cause of the crash.

It happened about 3:30 p.m. April 11 on Highway 49 near Portagee Lane.

Zahm was driving her Toyota pickup south and suddenly swerved into the highway's northbound lane, the CHP said.

Her pickup truck collided with a Buick sedan driven by Edward Stanton, 83, of El Dorado.

Stanton and his passenger, wife Jacqueline Stanton, 82, were pronounced dead at the scene.

An autopsy conducted this week found Edward Stanton died of blunt force trauma and Jacqueline Stanton died of asphyxia after inhaling soot, Tuolumne County Sheriff's Sgt. Jim Oliver said.

CHP Officer Nick Norton said an officer recently interviewed Zahm at the hospital but she didn't remember much about the crash. The last thing she remembered was talking to her passenger, Lucas Miller, 18, of Sonora.

Zahm is a caretaker for Miller, a resident of Sierra Foothills Residential Care, a 14-bed assisted living facility for developmentally disabled adults. She had picked him up from Bret Harte High School and was returning him to the facility, Sarto said.

Norton said the CHP is reviewing Zahm's medical records to see if she had any preexisting health problems.

Sarto said last week that Zahm might have lost consciousness while driving, but she was not aware of any health problems. Miller told Sarto he and Zahm were talking in the car and she suddenly went quiet. Her head fell down and the car jerked left, Sarto said.

Miller was treated for minor injuries at Sonora Regional Medical Center on April 11 and released the same day.

The Union Democrat
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