A California Highway Patrol officer, Gerald E. Dormaier, was killed after being struck by an oil tanker truck while trying to direct traffic around another tanker truck that had overturned on fog-shrouded State Highway 99.
The truck driver was booked on charges of vehicular manslaughter.
Officers said the accident occurred at 4:25 a.m. about 25 miles south of Bakersfield and a mile north of Mettler in the San Joaquin Valley, where heavy fog has caused several fatal accidents in recent weeks.
Dormaier, 44, of Bakersfield, a 14-year veteran of the CHP, died at Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield more than two hours after the accident.
Officers said a tanker truck had overturned and Dormaier and Officer Jerry Bean were setting up flares and directing traffic around the accident scene. Bean was not injured.
Officers said a truck driven by Bill Dunhue, 35, of Bakersfield, was traveling at “an excessive rate of speed for the conditions.” Dunhue was held at the Kern County Jail.
“Dormaier tried to wave down the approaching tanker truck, which slammed on its brakes, came in broadside and hit him and killed him,” a CHP spokesman said. “The visibility at the time was less than 50 feet. The fog was really dense.”
Traffic was blocked for almost two hours as authorities worked to clear the wreckage.
The accident occurred just north of the Grapevine, a twisting mountain pass on State 99.