Atwater suspect rams 3 police cars during pursuit

10/14/2013 10:25 AM

10/14/2013 2:02 PM

A wanted Atwater man rammed three police vehicles Sunday night during a low-speed car chase, according to Atwater police. No police officers were injured.

Roberto Huerta, 26, was wanted on charges of hit-and-run, drunken driving and driving without a license. He refused to pull over just before 10 p.m. when Atwater police tried to stop his black 1999 Honda Civic on a brake-light violation near Shaffer Road and East Clinton Avenue, police Lt. Sam Joseph said.

Alejandra Perales, 19, a female passenger in the Honda, was also wanted on an unspecified out-of-county warrant. A 16-year-old male was also inside the vehicle. Others officers joined the pursuit as the Honda headed southwest through Atwater, police said. “It was a relatively low-speed chase and there was no other traffic around,” Joseph said.

Speeds during the pursuit ranged from about 30 to 40 mph, police said. The driver of the Honda, later identified by police as Huerta, eventually stopped around Vine Street and Fruitland Avenue and the two passengers fled on foot.

The driver then reversed, hitting a police vehicle, and drove off through an almond orchard, police said. Upon leaving the orchard, the Honda struck another police vehicle and sped away, according to police. “He did that, possibly, as a distraction so others could try to get away,” Joseph said.

Both passengers were captured a short time later. Perales was booked into the Merced County Jail on the warrant; the teenager was released to his parent, police said.

The Honda continued south on Vine Street, turning onto a dirt road south of Bellevue Road. With numerous police cars closing in, the Honda lost traction and veered to the right as another officer’s vehicle clipped the right rear wheel of the Honda, police said.

The suspect vehicle then crashed head-on into another police car, then reversed and rammeda third police car and became stuck in the loose-dirt road, police said.

Huerta suffered a cut above his left eye as he was pulled from the vehicle, police said. He received three sutures before he was booked into the Merced County Jail on more than $152,000 bail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, evading police, the three outstanding warrants and a host of traffic violations. He was still in custody Monday.

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