Hwy 178 reopens after deadly 4-vehicle crash

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Highway 178 about 4 miles into the mouth of the canyon was closed in both directions Thursday after a four-vehicle crash.

Traffic was already stalled in a one-lane construction zone, prompted by rock slides a several weeks back, when a van approached too quickly, according to authorities on scene.

The van's driver, 81-year-old James Fowler, of Wofford Heights, reportedly swerved, hit a guardrail, swerved again, clipped two cars, swerved again, and hit an oncoming semitruck.

The van's driver and a backseat passenger, who wasn't wearing a seat belt, sustained major injuries, according to the California Highway Patrol. All others involved suffered minor injuries.

The coroner's office later said the van's backseat passenger, 43-year-old Kimberly Fowler, died of her injuries.

The CHP said the highway reopened around 5:10 p.m.