Union Democrat staff

Authorities were searching Wednesday evening for a silver or tan pickup truck believed to have been involved in a traffic incident that killed a 57-year-old motorcyclist on Highway 49 just outside of San Andreas earlier that morning.

California Highway Patrol issued a news release at 4:09 p.m. stating the truck, described as either a Chevrolet or GMC, was last seen traveling north on Angels Road and is missing the centerpiece of its passenger-side front hubcap.

CHP also released a still image taken from a security camera at a local gas station that shows the suspect pickup driving along Highway 49 in the background and has asked for the public's help identifying its owner.

The victim, Charles Bray, of Cashmere, Wash., was pronounced dead at the scene 15 minutes after the collision that occurred about 11:30 a.m, according to the CHP report.

Bray was riding his 1995 Harley Davidson south on Highway 49 at around 45-to-50 mph when the suspect's truck, traveling north at about 50 mph, made a sudden left turn onto northbound Angels Road directly into the motorcycle's path, CHP said.

Bray attempted to steer left to avoid a collision but was unable to maintain control and ejected from the motorcycle, CHP said.

The report stated Bray, who was wearing safety equipment, suffered fatal injuries when he was thrown to the asphalt and collided with the front bumper of a 2002 Mercury Marquis driven by Michael Rogers, 51, of Columbia, traveling north behind the pickup at about 35-to-40 mph.

Rogers was uninjured in the incident.

"Somebody in front of me cut the man off without provocation or using a turn signal," Rogers said, also indicating Bray's sister had been driving in a vehicle in front of the motorcyclist. "He slid up into my front bumper and died."

Rogers described the day as "traumatic" and declined to answer any further questions about the incident during an interview from his home via phone Wednesday night.

CHP said the collision was still under investigation, and it was unknown whether drugs or alcohol were a factor.

Anyone with information regarding the pickup or the identity of its driver was being asked to contact the San Andreas CHP office at 754-3541.