Driver dies in fiery crash near Cholame ‘Y’

The driver of a Ford Mustang crossed into oncoming traffic on Highway 41 near the Cholame “Y” Monday afternoon and crashed into a semi truck. The person driving the Mustang died, and the big rig burst into flames.

Shortly before 3 p.m., the Mustang was traveling northbound on Highway 41 about one mile south of the Kern County line when it veered into the southbound lanes. After the Mustang collided with the big rig, the truck jackknifed and caught on fire.

Fillimon Lopez, 63, escaped the truck uninjured. The fire burned about 1.5 acres of nearby vegetation before firefighters extinguished it.

Following the collision, authorities closed Highway 41 in both directions near the Kern County line. Traffic backed up in the area.

Officials have yet to disclose the identity of the driver who died in the collision. It also remains unclear what caused the driver of the Mustang to drift into oncoming traffic.

Monday’s fatal crash was the second deadly collision of the month near the Cholame Y. In an April 6 collision by the Cholame Y, two people died and others suffered major injuries.

Because of the numerous fatal crashes at the Y, the state of California recently allocated funds toward redesigning the interchange.