Pile-Up Suspect Talks to Action News

July 13, 2008 8:03:32 PM PDT
A Texas man facing felony charges for his part in a deadly chain reaction crash in Fresno County spoke exclusively to Action News Sunday as he prepared to turn himself in. California Highway Patrol investigators say 61-year-old Morris Taylor caused the initial crash that led to a foggy pile-up on highway 99 last November. Taylor arrived in Fresno this weekend and said he'll be turning himself into authorities Monday. He claims the accident was not his fault.The November crash on Highway 99 was one of the worst in Fresno County History. Taylor said he remembered it well. "Two cars was stopped in each lane. I couldn't ... the only thing I could do was go around them. So I hit the tree," said Taylor.

A 400 page report by the C.H.P claimed it was Taylor that caused the initial crash, though investigators also said Taylor was not solely responsible for the more than 80 crashes that followed during a 15 minute period. Last month, prosecutors announced they were pursuing felony charges against Taylor, adding he was drunk at the time of the accident. "Given that they took a blood alcohol that came out to a .24, given this investigation into this case, we made a decision we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was involved in driving that vehicle and causing injury in this case," said Greg Anderson, Fresno County's Chief Deputy District Attorney.

Taylor claims he was at the end of the pile-up, though, and the accident had already happened by the time he got there. "I asked the lady that came to my car, that came to my rescue, 'What's going on out there, why they stopped in middle of the road?' And she said, 'There's been an accident'," said Taylor.

Taylor also denied he was drunk at the time of the crash. He admitted to having three drinks the night before but said he slept 8 or 9 hours before getting back on the road. Taylor said he's dying of liver cancer and at the time of the crash, he was on the way to Canada in search of his daughter. "The first thing that came into my mind when I saw when I was going to hit this car ... 'There may be women and children in this car, I'm going anyway?so I'm going to take the trees', so I went into the trees."

Taylor said he called prosecutors and came to Fresno as soon as he learned of the warrant for his arrest. He's hopeful things will all work out, but he's also a little worried. "I don't want to die in jail," said Taylor.

Investigators said many of the motorists were driving too fast for the foggy conditions. Two people died as a result of the crash but Taylor isn't charged in connection to the deaths. Another driver, Omar Macias, faces a manslaughter charge. Investigators said he was speeding when his big rig hit a vehicle, killing a 5-year-old boy.
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