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Newspaper Editor, 4 Others Killed in Highway Crash

<i> From Associated Press</i>

A fiery crash on a highway dubbed “Blood Alley” killed five people, including the editor of the San Luis Obispo County Telegram-Tribune, his wife and their 12-year-old daughter, authorities said Sunday.

Jeff and Ann Fairbanks and their daughter, Siena, died when their car burst into flames after a head-on crash with a motor home on California 46, a route notorious for its high incidence of traffic collisions. The accident occurred shortly before 5 p.m. Saturday, the California Highway Patrol said.

The Fairbanks’ 8-year-old daughter, Galen, was pulled to safety. She underwent surgery Sunday to repair a punctured bowel and was listed in serious condition at Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton, a nursing supervisor said.

Mike Stover, city editor of the Telegram-Tribune, said the Fairbanks were traveling through rural Shandon, about 22 miles east of Paso Robles, on the way home from a high school cross-country meet where their eldest daughter, Courtney, 15, had competed. Courtney took the team bus and was not in the car when the crash occurred, Stover said.

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The Fairbanks were traveling west when a 30-foot motor home crossed into oncoming traffic and struck them head-on, the CHP said. A pickup then hit the Fairbanks’ car from behind, pushing all three vehicles partially onto the shoulder, where they burst into flames.

The accident killed the motor home’s driver, Richard Jennings, 55, of Visalia, and the pickup driver, Jeffrey Paul Kenney, 28, of San Luis Obispo.

William Bibler, 54, of Exeter, a passenger in the motor home, sustained burns and was hospitalized. Another motor home passenger, Donald Johnson, 56, of Visalia, was treated for minor injuries at a hospital and released.

Jeff Fairbanks, 46, had worked at the Telegram-Tribune for about 20 years. Ann Fairbanks, 45, had been a reporter at the paper for about 15 years.

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“Jeff and Ann are two incredible people,” Stover said. “They’re both brilliant and funny and great to work with. They’re fabulous journalists. They’ve raised three wonderful girls.”

Funeral arrangements for the Fairbanks were not yet complete.


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