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Montana man killed in crash on Highway 99 at South Union Avenue

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Posted at 1:35 AM, Jun 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-24 18:20:35-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — UPDATE at 5:17 p.m. Friday July 21:

The Kern County coroner has identified the Montana man who was killed during a crash involving a semi-truck as 41-year-old Daniel Ralph Podunovich.

Officials say, the crash happened on Friday morning on Highway 99 at South Union Avenue. Podunovich reportedly died at the scene.

A coroner determined the cause of death was multiple traumatic injuries and the manner of death is an accident.
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A man from Montana was killed during a crash involving a semi-truck Friday morning on Highway 99 at South Union Avenue.

According to the California Highway Patrol, around 11:59 p.m. on June 20, CHP received reports of a Kia Optima stopped in traffic lanes in the area of southbound Highway 99 just north of Herring Road.

Officers from the Bakersfield Area Office were responding to the scene when, around 12:01 a.m. on June 21, CHP began receiving reports of a crash involving a 2019 Kia Optima and a 2011 Freightliner semi-truck hauling a 53-foot trailer.

The initial investigation found that a 41-year-old man from Dillon, Montana was driving the Kia southbound on Highway 99 south of South Union Avenue in the #3 lane when he stopped partially on the shoulder and partially in the #3 lane for unknown reasons. At the same time, the driver of the Freightliner was traveling southbound on Highway 99 south of South Union Avenue in the #3 lane at about 55 miles per hour.

CHP says the driver of the Freightliner had just finished checking his mirrors when he looked forward again and saw the red lights of the Kia approximately 20 to 30 yards in front of him stopped in the #3 lane. CHP says the driver of the Freightliner braked and turned his combination of vehicles to the left, but the front of his truck tractor collided with the back of the Kia.

CHP says this impact pushed the Kia to the west across the gore point and onto the west shoulder of the on-ramp to southbound SR-99 from South Union Avenue. The Freightliner and its trailer partially jackknifed and ended up in the dirt area of the gore point.

The driver of the Kia died in the crash. His identity will be released by the Kern County Coroner at a later time.

CHP says alcohol and/or drugs may have been a factor in the crash. The cause of the collision is still under investigation.

The Bakersfield Area CHP Office is asking anyone who may have witnessed this collision to contact the agency at (661) 396-6600.