The accident happened at Road 68 and Avenue 308 in Goshen. A small crowd of people were taking part in a church procession early Wednesday morning, when a car struck the back of the crowd. About 20 parishioners from Saint Thomas the Apostle church were marching down Avenue 308, holding candles, chanting and singing in a "Celebracion Guadalupana" event -- when a car came up from behind them and struck five people.
The CHP said the group had no traffic control personnel or flashlights, but each person was carrying a lit candle in front of them. According to a CHP press release, there were no street lights in the area, the candles were not visible from the rear, and the driver was unable to see the group of people walking in the middle of the road.
Two of the people hit had minor injuries, including a 3-year-old girl. Two other people had moderate injuries, and one person had major injuries. The injured pedestrians were taken to Kaweah Delta Hospital for treatment.
Investigators said the driver, 21-year-old Shawn Hill of Visalia, stayed on the scene, while officers investigated the crash. The CHP said he was corporative and extremely remorseful. Investigators do not suspect Hill of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. No citations were issued, but the crash is still under investigation.
The Diocese of Fresno sent out the following press release regarding the incident:
"The Diocese of Fresno received notification this morning, December 12, 2012, that an accident involving a vehicle and pedestrians participating in a local celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe took place in the small community of Goshen in the early hours of the morning. Local pastors are present to the pastoral needs of those injured. The faithful are encouraged to hold in prayer all involved.
"Processions such as this event, along with a variety of festive activities, have been a popular expression of piety associated with apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary authenticated by the Catholic Church within various cultural contexts throughout Christian history. Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrated on this day has been a source of consolation for many faithful Christians of all cultures for decades. The Diocesan Church expresses great concern for those injured this morning and trust that their faith and the support of their faith community will be an additional source of strength and consolation."