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A vehicle accident on Monday afternoon left three people in the hospital and a full-size car in a canal just off of Utica Avenue in rural Kings County, according to the California Highway Patrol. CHP spokesman Jerry Pierce said that speed was a "major factor" in the 3 p.m. crash east of Interstate 5.

Three people were riding in a 2004 Ford Crown Victoria west on Utica Avenue when a big rig and trailer stopped in front of them to make a left-hand turn. The driver of the Ford, 35-year-old Scott Alan Belk of Exeter, apparently tried to pass the big rig at high speed on the right dirt shoulder.

The car entered a large irrigation canal and crashed into the west bank, causing moderate to major injuries to all three occupants.

Belk and passenger Robert Earl Reed were taken to Hanford Community Medical Center for treatment of moderate injuries. Third occupant Derek Ryan Roden suffered major injuries in the crash and was transported to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.

Roden was listed in fair condition on Wednesday morning, hospital officials said.

The CHP says Roden was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash.

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"Speed was definitely a factor here," Pierce said. "The driver made a reactionary maneuver while overtaking the big rig. And, because he was going way too fast, he wasn't able to pass safely."

The reporter can be reached at 583-2425.

(July 9, 2009)

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