A Washington man was killed at 11:34 a.m. Wednesday, in an accident allegedly caused by an unknown driver’s unsafe turn on Highway 49, just south of San Andreas, according to a report from the California Highway Patrol.
Charles Bray, 57, of Cashmere, Wash., swerved his motorcycle into oncoming traffic to avoid the unknown truck driver who allegedly made a sudden left turn in front of the motorcyclist. Bray was thrown from his bike and was struck by another oncoming vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The California Highway Patrol reported a truck was driving north on Highway 49 approaching San Andreas at about 50 mph. Bray, his sister Jane Bernedo and nephew Luke were riding motorcycles toward Angels Camp at about 45 to 50 mph. Michael Rogers of Columbia, the man whose vehicle struck Bray, was driving a 2002 Mercury Marquis right behind the unidentified man’s truck into San Andreas, at about 35 to 40 mph. Rogers was determined to be not at fault by the Highway Patrol.
When the truck turned suddenly to the left, onto Angels Road, directly into the path of Bray, he turned his motorcycle to the left in an attempt to avoid a collision.
“He probably saw the car coming, tried to swerve back to the right and then went down,” said CHP Officer Rebecca Myers.
Bray lost control, and his motorcycle began to swerve left to right and then struck the asphalt roadway, causing him to be thrown from his motorcycle.
He fell on the roadway and was struck by the front bumper of Roger’s car. Although he was wearing a helmet, Bray suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at 11:45 a.m.
Bray’s wife, Karen, said he had put a lot of miles on his bike while pursuing his love of riding.
“He has always been passionate about riding,” she said. “He was doing what he loved to do.”
The three motorcyclists were headed to the south end of Yosemite. About 50 minutes after leaving Jackson, Bray was fatally injured in the crash.
The unknown driver allegedly left the scene of the accident in his vehicle, which was described as a silver or tan Chevrolet or GMC pickup that is missing part of the right front hubcap. The truck was last seen traveling north on Angels Road, toward northbound Highway 49.
The California Highway Patrol released a photo that is believed to be of the truck and driver. It is unknown whether drugs or alcohol were a factor. The photo came from a gas station’s security camera.
“I’m not looking for vindication,” Karen Bray said. “I just think the driver should be held responsible for an irresponsible act.”
Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to call 754-3541.