Median barrier might have prevented accident on Highway 58, killing 4 people

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The severity of major accident on Highway 58 that killed four people over the weekend could have been minimized by a center median barrier.

The fatal accident happened over the weekend on Highway 58 and Fairfax Road in Southeast Bakersfield.

According to the California Highway Patrol, at around 7:39 a.m. on Saturday , James Luschen, 42, was driving a van that was traveling west on Highway 58.

Luschen swerved to avoid traffic, lost control and crossed the median into eastbound traffic.

The van then crashed with a truck leading a trailer containing gardening tools, driven by 22-year-old Yonadan Diaz Inga. Twenty-year-old Marino Tacza Inga and 27-year-old William Bernardo Zapaico were both passengers in the vehicle that was struck. All four men died at the scene.

That part of Highway 58 does not have a center median barrier. According to Caltrans, a center median barrier significantly reduces run-off-road collisions.

Highway 58 has a center median barrier between Highway 99 to just east of Mount Vernon Avenue.

Saturday's fatal accident happened about a mile east of where the barrier ended.

East of Oswell St. on Highway 58, there is a 70-feet-wide median with no barrier between opposing lanes of traffic.

Caltrans officials say there are many factors that go into consideration before a barrier is erected.

Collision history, traffic volume, speed, weather conditions and funding limitations are all part of the criteria for installing a center median barrier.

Officials at Caltrans say there are no immediate plans for installation of a center median barrier on Highway 58 west of Mount Vernon Avenue. The current traffic flow does not make it eligible.

However, the investigation from this weekends fatal accident will be considering factor into the criteria for future barrier.

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