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Driver In Fatal Big Rig Crash On HWY 49 Identified

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Mokelumne Hill, CA – A solo-vehicle fatal crash yesterday shut down a section of Highway 49 in the Mokelumne Hill area for more than six hours last night, including through the evening commute.

As reported here Wednesday, the driver of the semi was pronounced dead at the scene. The CHP has identified him as 61-year-old Kelly Dean Kuntz of Ione. The collision happened just after 1 p.m. south of Big Bar Road at the bottom of the 13 curves near the North Fork of the Mokelumne River bridge. A hazmat crew had to be called after the big rig carrying raw sewage rolled over spilling its load. The roadway did not reopen until 7:30 p.m. last night after crews had cleaned up the spill while also retrieving Kuntz’s body and the truck from the ravine.

New details surrounding the wreck were also released. CHP spokesperson Toby Butzler recounted that Kuntz was driving a 2014 KW Tank truck northbound on the highway at about 45 mph. While approaching a curve in the roadway, Butzler relayed that the truck collided with the guard rail on the roadway’s east shoulder. The impact forced the semi to go over the guard rail and roll down into a ravine. He added, “At this time, it is unknown if drugs and/or alcohol were a factor in this collision.”