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Mother Lode Crashes Claim Three Lives.

Two separate accidents have claimed the lives of three people.

A 42-year-old Oakdale man is charged with felony drunk driving and gross vehicular manslaughter, after a single vehicle accident last evening on Highway 49. Fire crews found a Ford Tempo engulfed in flames just West of Marshes Flat Road shortly before 6:00 p.m. CHP investigators say Lawrence Lirette III lost control of the car. It overturned and burned, blocking the highway. A 74-year-old passenger, also from Oakdale, was dead at the scene. A second passenger from Modesto was taken to Sonora Community Hospital with moderate injuries.

Two people are dead as a result of a head-on collission on Highway 108 yesterday near Montezuma Junction. Twenty-one- year old Jennifer MacDougal of Tracy and 47 year old Natan Malkin of San Jose were pronouced dead at the scene. Three passengers were airlifted to Modesto hospitals with major injuries, and two others were treated for moderate to minor injuries at a local hospital.

Highway patrol investigators say MacDougal’s car drifted into the oncoming lane, and struck Malkin’s mini van head-on. Two members of the Malkin family were taken to a Modesto hospital for treatment of major injuries. Passenger in MacDougal´s car, 14 year-old Melanie Norris, of Jamestown, was also airlifted to a Modesto hospital with major injuries.

Traffic was diverted off Highway 108 in both directions while emergency crews worked to free the victims and the CHP investigated the crash.