NewsCovering Kern County


Five-year-old boy dies in crash, 22-year-old man arrested for DUI

Posted at 4:49 PM, Nov 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-25 15:40:58-05

UPDATE (Nov. 25th, 2017 7:18 a.m.): The California Highway Patrol has released the name of the man involved in a deadly crash and arrested for driving under the influence.

Officials arrested Daniel Mejia, 22, from Redlands, California.

Officials said just after 3:15 p.m. on Friday Juan Garcia was driving his 2002 Jeep southbound on Highway 99, north of Highway 119 and slowed to a stop in the center median divider and turned on his hazard lights to change a flat tire. 

Also in the the Jeep were Karla Mendoza, 21; Zoey Mendoza, 3; and an unnamed 5-year-old boy.

Mejia was driving a 2017 Chevrolet southbound in the #1 lane, at a high rate of speed, approaching the Jeep.

As the Chevrolet approached the Jeep, Mejia allowed his vehicle to drift to the left into the center median divider, where the left front of the Chevrolet collided into the right rear of the Jeep.

As a result of the collision, the Jeep sustained major damage, and came to rest on its left side, against the raised concrete center median divider, with occupants trapped inside.

The Chevrolet veered to the right across all southbound lanes and came to rest on its wheels, on the right dirt shoulder, facing in an easterly direction.

The Jeep subsequently began to catch on fire and several motorists stopped and were able to remove all occupants.

Other motorists also began to use fire extinguishers to extinguish the fire.

A small child in the Jeep sustained fatal injuries due to the collision.

Mejia was subsequently arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.

All southbound lanes were closed intermittently for medical care, medivac landing, and the collision investigation.

Traffic was diverted onto the southbound SR-119 off-ramp and the southbound #3 and #4 lanes were utilized to expedite the flow of traffic.

This collision is still under investigation.

The name of the child who died will be released by the Kern County Coroner's Office.

Mejia is being held on $130,000 bail and is expected in a Kern County courtroom on Tuesday.


UPDATE (November 24, 2017 6:03 p.m.): One child involved in the collision has died, according to the California Highway Patrol. 

A second child was also involved in the collision and was transported to a nearby hospital. The 23-year-old female was also taken to a hospital.

The driver of the truck involved in the accident is in custody.

Authorities estimate the highway will reopen in about 90 minutes. 


CHP is investigating a major injury crash on Southbound 99 near Taft Hwy.

Kern County Fire officials said a 23-year-old female and a 3-year-old were ejected from the vehicle.

They will be airlifted to a local hospital.

23ABC has a crew on scene and will provide more information as it becomes available.