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Ambulance Rolls Over in Highway Collision

MERCED, Calif. -- California Highway Patrol officers reported no major injuries in a collision between a vehicle and an ambulance around 9 a.m. Tuesday on northbound Highway 99.

The accident, which happened near the R Street exit, occurred after a Riggs ambulance was entering the highway from Martin Luther King Jr. Way, according to Shane Ferriera, CHP spokesman.

Ferriera said the ambulance attempted to move into the fast lane and collided with a beige Nissan Altima. Both drivers lost control of their vehicles. The ambulance flipped on its side, while the Altima rolled down an embankment, coming to a rest near a chain-link fence on 14th Street.

The driver of the Altima, 29-year-old Shadi Ahmad, of Modesto, was transported to the hospital with minor injuries. Two Riggs employees, the driver of the ambulance, 32-year-old Gillian Maduena, of Merced, and a male passenger, weren't injured. Ferriera said the ambulance wasn't carrying any patients and wasn't on its way to a call.

Both vehicles were traveling at about 65 mph, Ferriera said.

Paramedics from the Merced Fire Department arrived at the scene to provide assistance, in addition to officers from the Merced Police Department.

The CHP closed one lane of traffic while Caltrans workers cleaned up glass and other debris, resulting in a traffic slowdown.

Ben Alcocer, owner of La Casita Tortillas, said he heard the accident from his business, less than a block away from where Ahmad's came to a rest. "I just heard a bang," Alcocer said. "I thought is was those big trucks going by."

Ferriera said the accident is a reminder to drivers who are merging onto the highway to use caution. "It is incumbent upon the vehicle moving onto the freeway to make sure that it's safe," Ferriera said.

Investigators don't believe alcohol was involved in the collision.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com

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