A fiery crash on Highway 99 near Nicolaus on Wednesday evening killed two people and snarled traffic, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Sometime before 4 p.m., an older model Chevrolet Silverado, traveling south on Highway 99 south of Nicolaus, collided with a Ford Escape, which was traveling north, according to CHP Officer Dave Hernandez.

The names of the two male drivers that died were not available, pending notification of next of kin. No other occupants were reported in the vehicles.

“For unknown reasons, the driver of the Silverado moved into the northbound lane, which was in the path of the Escape,” Hernandez said. “It appears the Escape tried to make an evasive maneuver and was broadsided by the Silverado – they just missed hitting head on.”

Hernandez said the Chevrolet ended up down an embankment and became engulfed in flames.

“The driver of the Escape apparently was not wearing a seat belt,” he said.

It was unknown if alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash and Hernandez said the accident is still under investigation.

Hernandez said one lane of traffic was open as emergency personnel worked at the scene which slowed commuter traffic.

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