Visalia man in stolen vehicle killed by hit and run big rig

TRAVER, Calif.

It happened along Highway 99, near the Merritt exit.

The California Highway Patrol says the 45-year-old Visalia man was driving a full carload of eight people when it ran into mechanical problems. The man then tried to pull off to the side of the road.

CHP Officer Brian Avery said, "The man opened the driver's door, the vehicle came to rest partially blocking the number-two lane, and when he opened the door he was hit by a passerby vehicle."

The impact killed the man and damaged part of the car. Investigators believe a semi-truck struck the driver and fled the scene.

The other people inside the car, including a man, a mother and her six children, were not injured. Traffic backed up for miles, as the CHP pieced together what happened.

Later, officers learned that the vehicle was reported stolen out of Hanford.

The second man was taken into custody for questioning, but officials say his relationship to the occupants of the car is unknown.

Avery said, "There was no fog at the time but it was dark."

Avery wants to remind motorists to completely pull your vehicle to the side of the road, before you exit the vehicle.

Investigators say if the driver is found, they could face felony hit-and-run charges. Investigators are following up on possible leads and point out the big rig involved in the hit-and-run would have damage to the front end.

If you have any information, you are asked to call the CHP.

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