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Fatality Closes Highway

A deadly broadside collision involving a motorcyclist just before 5 p.m. on Friday, May 16 closed Yosemite Avenue at East E Street in downtown Oakdale and had the thoroughfare closed for nearly three hours.

Oakdale Police reported that at 4:59 p.m. they responded to the accident between a Ford Five-Hundred sedan and a blue Harley Davidson motorcycle at the location.

Oakdale Police Sergeant Joe Carrillo said when he arrived on the scene an off-duty nurse was performing CPR on the driver of the motorcycle, later identified as Travis Wheeler, 43, of Oakdale.

Carrillo and another officer later assisted and also performed CPR until the arrival of emergency medical personnel.

Wheeler was rushed to Oak Valley Hospital by ambulance where he was pronounced dead.

The driver of the Ford, an 18-year-old woman, also of Oakdale, and her passenger were not injured in the collision.

According to Sgt. Carrillo, the preliminary investigation showed that the Ford was traveling south on Yosemite Avenue and turned left to go on East E Street, turning into the path of the motorcycle going north on Yosemite Avenue, causing a broadside collision of the motorcycle striking the sedan.

Yosemite Avenue, part of State Highway 120 and the main route used for motorists traveling to Yosemite and Sonora, was shut down for close to three hours as Oakdale Police, assisted by the California Highway Patrol, investigated the accident.

Sgt. Carrillo said traffic was diverted around the scene using side streets.

Investigating officer, Nick McKinnon, on Tuesday, May 20, said witness statements and video obtained from Oakdale Feed and Seed showed the motorcyclist was two cars back behind a truck in slowed traffic of the left northbound Yosemite Avenue lane and switched lanes to the right lane, accelerating rapidly to get around traffic.

The motorcycle then went into a locked wheel skid upon seeing the Ford turning left, causing the motorcycle go “sideways” prior to colliding with the Ford.

McKinnon said there was roughly 80 feet of skid mark leading to the point of impact.

Barring any drug or alcohol results on the drivers, the cause of the accident has been determined to be the speed of the motorcycle.

“If he would have stayed behind the truck in front of him, he would be alive today,” said McKinnon. “The young lady had more than enough time to make the left turn, but when he accelerated around, it looks like he had no time to react.”

The investigation is continuing.