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Thursday Crash Claims Two
0115 Fatal 2
The air ambulance gets ready to touch down in the field off the north side of Stearns Road on Thursday, responding to a fatal accident near the intersection of South Stearns and Highway 108/120. Marg Jackson/The Leader

An early afternoon multi-vehicle accident near the intersection of Highway 108/120 and South Stearns Road just east of Oakdale on Thursday, Jan. 9 claimed the lives of two local residents.

Mary Morris, 61, a passenger in one of the vehicles involved, died at the scene of the crash and another driver, 75-year-old Robert Arnett, died over the weekend.

The crash was reported shortly after 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 9.

Multiple agencies responded to the scene, with Oakdale Police Department, Oakdale Rural and City Fire Departments, CHP and Oak Valley Ambulance personnel all among those participating in the rescue efforts.

Oakdale Police Sergeant Joe Johnson said the preliminary investigation showed a green pick-up truck was traveling westbound on Highway 108/120 and slowed preparing to make a left turn to Stearns Road. When the green pick-up pulled into the left turn lane, it was rear-ended by a white truck, also traveling westbound on Highway 108/120. Arnett was the driver of the white truck; Morris was a passenger in the green truck. The force of the impact caused the green truck to go into the path of an Acura van that was traveling east on Highway 108/120, causing another collision when it was broadsided on its passenger side by the Acura.

At the scene, the green Chevrolet pick-up truck with its bed appearing to be sheared off was facing northbound on South Stearns near the stop sign at the highway intersection and the Acura mini-van was facing westbound on the highway just east of the Stearns Road intersection.

According to Johnson, Mary Morris, 61, of Oakdale, was a passenger in the green Chevrolet pick-up truck. Her husband, Brian Morris, 59, was the driver of the truck and he was taken to Doctors Hospital for his injuries.

The white Chevrolet pick-up truck was off the south side of the highway west of Stearns at the accident scene with its airbag deployed. The driver, Arnett, was pinned in and had to be extricated by fire personnel. He was taken to an awaiting helicopter in the field off the north side of the highway and air lifted to Doctors Hospital in Modesto.

Arnett died on Sunday, Jan. 12 (An obituary appears in this week’s edition).

The driver and occupants of the Acura walked away from the accident with only a complaint of pain.

Traffic control was in place through the area while the rescue and removal of vehicles and debris were conducted. Modesto Police Department’s Major Accident Investigation Team was called in to assist in the investigation.