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2 Calif. officers die when vehicle flips

KINGSBURG, Calif. — The California Highway Patrol was mourning the loss of two officers Monday after their squad car flipped over while they were responding to a multi- vehicle crash.

The officers were heading southbound to the crash site on state Route 99 near the Central Valley town of Kingsburg, about 25 miles from Fresno, CHP Captain Dave Paris said.

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The original collision was initially reported on the northbound side of the divided highway, Paris said. But the officers soon discovered that the predawn collision was actually in the southbound lanes of the highway, and one of the drivers involved in the accident was on the road, Paris said.

The officer who was driving tried to swerve out of the way.

‘‘Our vehicle lost control and collided into the guardrail,’’ and the officers died after their vehicle overturned, Paris told reporters. Both officers were wearing seat belts, he said.

The officers were identified as 34-year-old Brian Law, of Clovis, and 33-year-old Juan Gonzalez, of Fresno. They were in the same car because they had been working a late shift, a standard procedure, said officer Axel Reyes, a Highway Patrol spokesman.

The deaths are believed to be the first CHP fatalities in the line of duty in the Fresno area in about 16 years, he said.

‘‘It’s draining — a lot of the officers are drained,’’ Reyes said. ‘‘Officers are having a tough time — some more than others.’’

The CHP’s accident reconstruction teams remained at the site Monday afternoon to scour for evidence.

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