CHP officers respond to dozens of crashes across Fresno as holiday travel ramps up

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- California Highway Patrol officers have recorded at least 53 accidents Friday just in the Fresno area.

The sound of Christmas on the radio was joined in with the pitter-patter of raindrops on the road. It's the soundtrack for millions of drivers ready for a congested holiday weekend.

"The on ramps weren't too bad, but the off ramps were really bad," Dan Fynaut of Fresno said.

"I saw a few accidents, but for the most part people seem to be taking it easy," Steve Zeiders of Merced said.

AAA estimates more than 103 million Americans are expected to travel. That's the highest level ever on record. Analysts say low gas prices this year encouraged more people to drive. One couple in Fresno spent the last three days on the road while heading to Sacramento.

"It was like coming at us," Brenda Harts from Arizona said. "We didn't know if it was rain or fog. But when it hit us it was fog, you couldn't see very far. So, it was rough."

CHP officers say accidents stalled traffic on all major freeways. Families coming down from the Bay Area found themselves at a standstill on Highway 99 when a car plowed into several others, killing one person.

Officers say Friday's crashes ranged from fender benders to spinouts.

"Just maybe 10 miles south of here, a 3 car pileup, things slowed down a bit," said Don Benanti who is from the Bay Area.

"We did see a few cars on the side of the road," Scott Bambacigno said. "There was a diesel truck pushed off to the side of the road, so that was interesting."

The rain also caused water to rapidly rise. In Central Fresno, street flooding backed into two homes. Firefighters say city workers are out with pumps trying to drain the water before it becomes a bigger problem from neighbors and drivers

"Inside the house, it's about ankle deep," Fresno Fire Capt. Jeff Harsh said. "We've got a couple feet here in the front yard."
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.