Merced police have confirmed that a 45-year-old Merced man who caused a July 22 head-on crash on Highway 140 was driving under the influence.
Martin Ochoa Ruiz was driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.229 percent the day his Crown Victoria collided head-on with a Chevrolet Suburban carrying a family of six near Arboleda Drive, according to Sgt. Jay Struble.
Ruiz's blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the state's 0.08 percent legal limit. He died at the scene.
Ruiz was driving westbound on Highway 140 after 4:30 p.m. Witnesses told police he'd been driving behind two tour buses, which had been traveling about 55 mph.
Ruiz pulled out from behind the pair of buses, entering the eastbound lane and passing the first bus, witnesses said. He pulled back into the westbound lane, positioning his car between the buses.
Struble said Ruiz tailgated the bus in front of him before he pulled into the eastbound lane again and tried to pass it.
When Ruiz entered the eastbound lane, his Crown Victoria crashed head-on with the Suburban, which was driven by Guillermo Gutierrez Sr. of Managua, Nicaragua. Gutierrez had been traveling with his wife, Martha Venegas, 44, and their four children.
The family had been visiting California from Nicaragua. The day of the crash, they were on their way to visit Yosemite National Park.
Gutierrez Sr. and Venegas were hospitalized. The couple's children, Guillermo Jr., 18; Irela, 17; Eduardo, 9; and Fernando, 4, suffered minor injuries. All were taken to local hospitals by ambulance.
Since the crash, the family has returned home to Nicaragua. Gutierrez has undergone numerous surgeries for his injuries and will require an extended period to recover, Struble said.