Eight dead in head-on collision in Madera: 'The most bodies I've ever seen'

A violent head-on collision on a two-lane highway in Madera County on Friday morning left eight people dead, with the sole survivor transported to a local hospital with major injuries, according to authorities.

The deadly crash took place around 6:15 a.m. Friday on Avenue 7, a local two-lane highway, just west of Road 22, according to Javier Ruvalcaba, a California Highway Patrol spokesman for Madera.

A Chevrolet pickup truck was driving east on the highway when he drifted across the dotted yellow line separating the lanes and collided with a 1990s GMC Safari, Ruvalcaba said.

The Chevrolet was occupied just by its driver, but the GMC he crashed into was packed with eight people on their way to work at a local farm. Many of them were not wearing their seatbelts, according to Ruvalcaba.

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One person was thrown out of the GMC while another was partially ejected from the vehicle, he said. Seven of the eight people in the GMC were killed and the driver of the Chevrolet was also killed, Ruvalcaba said.

"This is the worst crash I’ve seen in my career," said the 20-year veteran of the CHP. "The bodies. The total number of bodies. It's the most bodies I’ve ever seen."

Ruvalcaba said the crash was a wake-up call for Californians to strap in when they are driving.

"Seatbelts could have saved lives. Many lives," he said.

The Mexican consulate was on scene, said Ruvulcaba, who described all of the crash victims as Hispanic. Family members were on scene as well.

The portion of the highway where the crash occurred was straight and the weather conditions did not factor into the crash, Ruvalcaba said.

The CHP said that Avenue 7 was closed between Road 21 and 22 due to the crash with no estimated time that it might reopen.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.