Chief Dyer talks about 5 car related deaths in 24 hours

53-year-old Daniel Mendez and 43-year-old Ramona Mendez were delivering newspapers on Kings Canyon near Temperance when they were hit by a car driving at a high rate of speed

UPDATE: Monday, December 11, 2017 - Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer held a news conference Monday afternoon to discuss the upturn in fatal crashes in the City of Fresno.

Chief Dyer said his traffic officer force has been reduced because of budget cuts and covering events like political protests, allowing poor driving habits to escalate.

Over the next few weeks and into the new year, officers will be out in force watching for intoxicated drivers 7 days a week, which also includes undercover bar watch operations.

There will also be a department-wide focus on traffic safety, handing out tickets for people speeding, running red lights, jaywalking or failing to yield to oncoming traffic. "We're going to be writing tickets to change the culture of driving in Fresno," said Dyer.

Chief Dyer says this traffic safety effort will not take away city safety, but will make non-emergency calls a lower priority.

Dyer also addressed the legal marijuana laws that begin on January 1st. "Just because it's legal in California to consume marijuana, just like it's legal to consume alcohol, doesn't mean you get behind the wheel of a car and that makes it legal as well," said Dyer.

Saturday, December 9, 2017 - The Fresno Police Department is now investigating three separate car crashes within 24 hours that has left 5 people dead.

Police say the first crash happened Friday evening at the intersection of Tulare and Willow.

They say for an unknown reason a motorcycle with two people on it collided with an SUV making a left-hand turn.

Officers say the man and the woman on the motorcycle both died and have been identified at 45-year-old Rufugio Cedillo and 42-year-old Tanya Shaw, both of Fresno.

Police say the driver of the SUV was not under the influence of alcohol/drugs and police are awaiting toxicology reports from the motorcyclist.

The second crash happened early Saturday morning on Kings Canyon near South Apricot Avenue.

Police say a husband and wife were delivering the Fresno Bee when a car traveling at a high rate of speed smashed into the back of their car.

They have been identified as 53-year-old Daniel Mendez and 43-year-old Ramona Mendez, both of Fresno.

Both were pronounced dead on scene, according to officers.

As for the driver, police say Michael Robert Merritt-Hutchins,25, had to be rescued from his car and was taken to CRMC with moderate injuries.

Police say Hutchins will be charged with felony DUI and Vehicular Manslaughter.

The third crash happened early Saturday morning as well near Weber and Princeton in Central Fresno.

Police say 58-year-old James Raby of Fresno was riding his bike on Weber in the bike lane when he was hit by a car.

Raby was pronounced dead on scene.

They say the car drove away but within minutes police were able to find the car and pulled the driver over.

Officers say there was obvious damage to the car and they were able to quickly connect it to the hit and run.

The driver has been identified as Jose Hernandez, 22. Police say he has been booked into the Fresno County Jail for Felony Hit and Run, Felony DUI, and Vehicular Manslaughter.

In 2016 the city had 33 collision-related deaths. To date, there have been 48 deaths resulting from 45 collisions.

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