CHP Continues Investigation Into Deadly Suspected DUI Crash in Chowchilla – YCV

The investigation continues into a deadly suspected DUI crash in Chowchilla on Friday that took the lives of two people.

Bruce Erickson, who is 65-years old and from Winton, is accused by the California Highway Patrol of being the suspect in a car collision that killed 28-year old Vanessa Tapetillo and 28-year old Juan Barragan. Both were from Merced. Investigators allege Erickson had been drinking when he got behind the wheel on Friday afternoon.

Sgt. John Johnson with Madera CHP said, “You take the excessive speed with that radius of a turn, and you mix that in with being obviously impaired, it’s a lethal combination.”

Investigators said Erickson’s truck went through a dirt center divider and there was a little ramp, which forced the vehicle to go airborne, landing on top of Barragan and Vanessa’s truck.

Crystal Tapetillo, one of Vanessa’s older sister said, “I’m glad she didn’t go scared and alone. She had the person, she had her love of her life with her.”

“We’re not angry as much as we are heartbroken over the choices that he made,” said Patricia Tapetillo, another one of Vanessa’s sisters.

Johnson said on Wednesday that they waiting for lab results to determine Erickson’s blood alcohol level at the time of the crash.

Local defense attorney David Mugridge weighed in on the case. Mugridge said, “He stands in the position where he could certainly be prosecuted without much problem for vehicular manslaughter, but most likely he could be prosecuted for second degree murder because of the circumstances and the prior allegation.”

CHP alleges Erickson hit two cars before the fatal crash.

Mugridge said it’s unfortunate this case is a reminder to many to not drink and drive.

“But it’s not worth it. It’s not worth taking somebody’s life,” said Patricia.

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