6 people, including 5 firefighters, injured when fire truck and SUV crash near Clovis

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Action News is learning new information about five U.S. Forest Service firefighters and a sixth person injured in a rollover crash near Clovis. The California Highway Patrol said the crash happened around 7:30 Sunday morning on Highway 168 between Shepherd and Academy avenues.

Firefighters Derek Soden, 29, of Mariposa, and Lee Sands, 37, of Groveland, are at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno. The CHP isn't releasing the full extent of their injuries but says this major crash could've been avoided.

A massive Forest Service rig is likely totaled, the CHP said, after rolling four times and smashing into an open field. Video shows Action Towing pulling the fire truck away shortly after firefighters were rushed to the hospital.

"The collision sent both vehicles out of control; both vehicles rolled -- one on the south side of 168 and one on the north side of 168," said CHP Sgt. Joseph Bianchi.

The other driver involved is Maria Constable, 53, of Fresno. The CHP said she was trying to merge and sideswiped the fire engine.

"At the end of the intersection, the vehicle tried to merge back over and collided with the right side of the fire truck," said Bianchi.

The CHP is still investigating the crash and whether or not Constable's maneuver caused the collision. The firefighters are from Stanislaus National Forest. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the wildland fire engine was on its way to Prather to provide additional fire suppression coverage for Sierra National Forest.

Constable had minor injuries, and the CHP says DUI was not a factor in the collision. The three other firefighters -- Ben Jongenward, 32, of Groveland, Ryan Baker, 28, of Yosemite, and Brittany Dowden, 29, of Madera -- all had minor injuries as well.
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