Dinuba principal arrested after 2 dead in DUI crash, officials say

Dinuba principal arrested after 2 dead in DUI crash, officials say

REEDLEY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A Dinuba Unified principal is on leave until further notice after he was arrested following a fatal DUI crash on Sunday evening, according to the CHP and school district officials.

Officers say 43-year-old Blake Benham from Dinuba, the principal at John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Dinuba, was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of driving under the influence. The arrest came after a fatal crash outside of Reedley at around 6:00 p.m.; according to the CHP, officers responded to the area of Road 56 near Avenue 430 for a crash involving two vehicles.

IDENTIFIED: Mother, daughter killed in DUI crash near Reedley

Investigators say a 55-year-old man from Reedley was driving a 2022 Nissan Rogue on Road 56 in a northerly direction near Avenue 430 – and 43-year-old Blake Thomas Benham of Dinuba was driving a 2021 Ford F-150 in a southerly direction on the same road. For reasons yet to be determined, investigators say Benham failed to stay in his lane and allowed his vehicle to travel into the northbound lane.

43-year-old Blake Thomas Benham of Dinuba
43-year-old Blake Thomas Benham of Dinuba

Investigators say after traveling out of the lane, the Ford F-150 struck the Nissan Rogue head-on killing two people inside the Nissan.

Another two people in the Nissan sustained major injuries and were transported to a local hospital.

In a statement, Dinuba Unified School District writes that their thoughts go out to the passengers of the vehicle, their loved ones, and all involved.

The District administration sends its condolences to those suffering as a result of this tragic incident.

Assistant Superintendent Marti Kochevar, M.Ed

Investigators say Benham was evaluated on scene and determined to be operating the Ford F-150 under the influence of alcohol.

According to officials, Benham had a complaint of pain following the crash and was arrested and booked at the Tulare County Pre-Trial Facility on suspicion of felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter. He has since bonded out.

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