Investigators calling Merced Co crash a suicide

FRESNO, Calif.

Emergency crews spent hours at the site of this deadly crash on Highway 140. Among the wreckage, detectives found a suicide note they say was written by 40-year-old Jason Shetler before he intentionally swerved his Nissan truck into an oncoming big rig.

Deputy Tom Mackenzie said, "In the note he made reference to relationship problems and medical conditions he had and apologized to friends and family for the grief and stuff he put them through."

Shetler died at the scene. The driver of the big rig suffered minor injuries. And the woman who was driving the Ford Taurus behind Shetler's pick-up was seriously hurt. Firefighters spent hours trying to remove 53-year-old Yolanda Charlton from her mangled car before she was flown to a Modesto hospital. Charlton's sister says she suffered several major injuries, including a broken neck and broken pelvis.

"But one encouraging sign was that last night she was moving and responding to directions," said Carmen Goodrich. "Like the nurse said to her, wiggle your toes, and she was able to wiggle her toes."

Carmen Goodrich says Charlton is a loving sister, wife, and mother of three adult sons. She's also worked for the Merced County Office of Education for 15 years. An MCOE spokesperson says Charlton works in the special education department and often travels around the county to meet with children's families. She was on her way to see a family in Gustine when authorities say she became an innocent victim of Shetler's suicide.

"I can't hold it against him, because he must be disturbed and troubled," adds Goodrich. "So I need to forgive him, but it doesn't take away the pain."

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