Tragedy on the highways

Five Butte County residents killed in accidents over the weekend

Five Butte County residents died over the weekend in vehicle-related collisions, and authorities say three of the fatalities stemmed from two separate collisions involving drunken drivers.

According to California Highway Patrol reports, the man who drove head on into the vehicle of Chicoans Rogelio Herrera and Sarai Alvarez, killing the couple early Sunday evening, was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Robert Barnes, 25, a Corning resident, was booked into Butte County Jail. The deceased Chico couple’s two young sons were transported to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento with major injuries.

Barnes and two other occupants of his truck are also facing drug charges related to several pounds of pot confiscated at the scene of the crash on Highway 99.

Hours later, Gary Wayne Smith, a Caltrans worker who was called in to direct traffic near the fatal crash, was struck and killed by another allegedly drunken driver, 45-year-old Corning resident Russell N. Hodge.

Both men facing charges have prior DUIs.

The same day, two Paradise motorcyclists riding on the same bike were killed on the Oro Bangor Highway when a man overcorrected his vehicle and hit the pair.