A Planada man died early Saturday after the car he was a passenger in plunged into a canal. The driver, 23-year-old Everado Soriano, was arrested. He is suspected of fleeing the scene and leaving his passenger behind after the crash. The California Highway Patrol reported he'd been drinking and driving.
The identity and age of the man who drowned hasn't been released, pending notification of family.
Officer John Patterson, CHP spokesman, said the exact time of the crash isn't known, but officers responded to the scene after receiving a 7:54 a.m. call about the car in the canal.
CHP investigators believe Soriano was driving a 1991 Honda Accord west on Bear Creek Drive approaching Plainsburg Road at about 50 mph. He turned the car left and drove off the south edge of the road into a Merced Irrigation District canal. The Honda went down the canal bank and overturned on its roof into about three feet of standing water.
Soriano and the passenger got out of the car, but the passenger couldn't get out of the canal and died, according to the CHP.
Although an early news release from the CHP said the victim drowned, Patterson clarified that an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death. Patterson said it's unknown whether the man drowned or died from injuries sustained in the crash.
Meanwhile, Soriano fled and made no attempts to contact law enforcement or provide aid to his passenger, authorities said. He was arrested several hours after the crash. Officers spotted him as a passenger in another car, pulled over the vehicle and took him into custody, Patterson said.
Other than a minor seat belt abrasion, Soriano wasn't hurt, according to the CHP.
Soriano was booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of felony hit-and-run, DUI with a blood-alcohol concentration above 0.10 percent, vehicular manslaughter with gross bodily injury, and felony hit and run. He's being held in lieu of $385,000 bail. Merced Sun-Star
Los Banos Police arrested Edwardo Guevara, 18, of Los Banos after a Jan. 20 burglary in the 1900 block of Aspen Court. Los Banos Enterprise
Cesar Gama is wanted by the Merced County Sheriff's Department on weapons charges and for violating his probation. Gama is a 31-year-old Latino man, about 5-foot-6 and 125 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He has tattoos of the word "Puppet" on his back, a cross on his right hand, the letters "PP" on his stomach, the Virgin Mary on the right side of his neck. Gama goes by the street name "Puppet." He was last seen in the Merced area. If you have information, call the Merced County Sheriff's Department at (209) 385-7616.
Charges were dismissed against Aaron Cardenas, 52, after 11 of 12 jurors voted for a not-guilty verdict. Cardenas was facing two counts of felony burglary and grand theft. He was accused of taking items from the Castle Family Health Center, where he worked as a housekeeper.
A year ago, he was accused of taking raffle prizes for a Super Bowl party from an office, including a 19-inch flat screen television, a Wii, two iPods and $500 cash. As evidence, prosecutors had video footage of Cardenas leaving the room, carrying a large plastic garbage bag.
But jurors felt the video footage alone wasn't enough to convict Cardenas, who claimed he was innocent and carrying items to be recycled in the bags. Merced Sun-Star
Defendant Mark Vincent Straus Jr., 18, is accused of shooting a 24-year-old man in the leg outside a Merced apartment, after he assumed the victim was a rival gang member. The victim, who doesn't belong to a gang, survived. The judge ordered a mistrial after key evidence emerged that could affect the case's outcome. Merced Sun-Star
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Evaristo Romero, 22, was arrested for resisting arrest. Merced Sun-Star
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Yvan Valencia, 20, was booked on charges of felony evading and resisting arrest and may face charges of driving under the influence and remains on $52,000 bail Merced Sun-Star
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Miguel Lopez, 15, was arrested for resisting arrest. Merced Sun-Star
Marc Salinas, 38, allegedly stabbed 40-year-old Rishard LaPointe to death in his Phoenix apartment in 2001, said Sgt. Tommy Thompson of the Phoenix Police Department. The case was reopened last fall. Phoenix authorities recently identified Salinas as a suspect and obtained a homicide warrant for his arrest, said Deputy U.S. Marshal Tim Merrell. They received a tip that he was in the Central Valley area. He was arrested in Delhi on Jan. 10. Merced Sun-Star
22-year-old Jose Mireles Vazquez was found with two baggies of cocaine identical to the one found on the bathroom floor. The cocaine totaled 3 grams, with a street value of about $200.
Vazquez was arrested and booked on suspicion of possessing cocaine for sale. He remains in custody without bail on an immigration hold. Merced Sun-Star
Jeffery Heberline, 31, was pulled over by Merced County sheriff's detectives on Jan. 13 in the 2300 block of Atwater Boulevard. After searching Heberline, Det. Chris Sziraki found a 10-inch knife in the suspect's boot. Heberline was booked without bail on suspicion of a parole violation and possession of a concealed weapon. Merced Sun-Star
SUN-STAR PHOTO BY MARCI STENBERG
Albert Campos with a taser still in his left cheek, was placed in the back of a police vehicle on Union Ave. in Merced, Friday, January 14, 2011 morning and arrested on suspicion of possession of stolen property, resisting arrest and burglary Merced Sun-Star
Tanya Lynn Cameron, 26, was taken into custody shortly after 1:30 a.m. Tuesday in the 300 block of West 23rd Street, according to Lt. Andre Matthews. She allegedly attacked three people with a baseball bat and a knife. Merced Sun-Star
27-year-old Jose Rodriguez, is suspected of kidnapping and killing 4-year-old Juliani Cardenas, his ex-girlfriend's son.