CORCORAN — A traffic accident just southeast of Corcoran claimed the life of a 17-year-old teen and injured five of his friends on Halloween night.
Eduardo “Lalo” Garcia Gallardo of Corcoran was thrown from the car as it rolled off the roadway and onto the north-south railroad tracks. Officers pronounced him dead at the scene, the California Highway Patrol said.
Investigators say six youths were crammed into a 2001 Kia Spectra and driving south on Santa Fe Avenue. They were on their way to a cemetery for a “ghost walk,” said friends of the victims, around 8:22 p.m.
The driver, who was not named, drifted off the road at 50 miles per hour and lost control. The car rolled several times, ejecting Gallardo and three other passengers from the back seat.
Brenda Madrigal, 16; Lucia Gomez, 17; and Miryam Negrete, 17, of Corcoran all suffered major injuries. Investigators said they were not wearing their seat belts.
Only 15-year-old Alvazo Lopez and the unidentified driver were buckled in. They sustained minor to moderate injuries.
They were all taken to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno for treatment.
Jerry Pierce, a CHP spokesman, said it took emergency responders almost 30 minutes to find the accident scene because of conflicting reports called in about the crash.
“We were given four different locations, even one at 11th and Jackson avenues,” he said. “We had to call in allied agencies to help track the car down.”
Upon learning of the crash, authorities warned railway officials to close down the train tracks to avoid a second accident.
“We have a lot of questions that need to be answered,” said Pierce. “But we will get to the bottom of what happened here.”
The CHP will not release the driver’s name because he is a minor and could be facing criminal charges pending the outcome of their investigation.
Alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the crash.
Corcoran High School officials said counseling services are being offered to students. The school’s Associated Student Body is making arrangements to hold a remembrance activity on Friday or Monday during lunchtime.
Ivette Chaidez, an outspoken proponent of seat belt safety, said she was saddened by the news when it broke Wednesday night.
“I know what it feels like to lose a loved one like this,” she said. “It causes a whole lot of pain in people’s lives that never truly goes away. Buckling up is a one-second decision that can affect an entire community for a long time.”
Funeral services for Gallardo will be held next week, starting with a visitation on Tuesday at Bledsoe Family People’s Funeral Chapel at 1030 Cardoso Ave. in Corcoran from 3 to 6 p.m. Then on Wednesday at 10 a.m. a funeral Mass is scheduled at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 1409 Brokaw Ave. in Corcoran.
Reporter Joseph Luiz contributed to this story.
The reporter can be reached at 583-2425 or