The crash happened at the intersection of American and Navelencia near Orange Cove on Friday evening. All of the people in the 8-passenger van were from Porterville -- two of them were father and son.
According to CHP officers, they were driving home from a day of work in the fields. A father and son and two of their friends were killed in a crash involving a semi-truck and a mini-van. Officers say the victims are 56-year-old Aguileo Vazquez Vargas and his son 29-year-old Fortino Vasquez Tepeco, 21-year-old Pedro Rodriguez Vasquez and 55-year-old Jorge Aguilera.
The crash happened late Friday when a mini-van tried to pass a semi truck that was turning at an intersection. A woman who wrote on the Action News Facebook page says her uncle was one of the people who died. She describes the victim as a farm worker who moved here from Mexico to support his wife he left in his home country. The man investigators say is responsible for these deaths is 39-Year-old Augustin Mendoza who was driving the mini-van.
"His decision to pass the vehicle in an intersection was a violation of vehicle code," said Sgt. Joseph Bianchi, CHP.
None of the victims who died were wearing their seatbelts. But investigators say Mendoza is facing four charges of vehicular manslaughter because he allowed 9 people to ride in his 8 person van -- and drove over a single yellow solid line.
"Anytime there's an intersection, you don't want to pass a vehicle. So coming to a stop behind the vehicle would've been the best bet," said Bianchi.
Four other passengers were wearing their seatbelts and survived with minor injuries. All of the additional passengers were also getting a ride home from the fields where they worked.
The driver of the semi-truck wasn't injured and isn't facing any charges.