A van full of teenage boys crashed into a ditch on Mercey Springs Road in Los Banos late Friday after authorities say the driver tried to outrun police while driving under the influence of drugs.
Two of the teenage boys play football for Pacheco High School and three are former football players, according to David Snapp, Pacheco High’s head football coach.
“Thank God we’re not going to any funerals, thank God they didn’t get more seriously hurt,” Snapp said in an interview with the Sun-Star.
Investigators believe the “primary cause” of the crash was driving under influence of drugs, and noted a “strong odor of marijuana” coming from the vehicle, according to Cmdr. Jason Hedden of the Los Banos Police Department.
Snapp, who has been the head coach at Pacheco for six years, declined to comment further on the identities of the five young men involved in the crash, saying they all are under 18.
Hedden said a Los Banos police officer spotted a van swerving on Quail Street just before 11:30 p.m. Friday.
“The officer turned around and stopped the vehicle,” Hedden said. “The van pulled to the side of the road and the sliding door on the van opened, but then the van accelerated away from the officer at a high speed.”
The van continued west at high speed, crossed Highway 165, blew through a stop sign and then crashed into a ditch on Mercey Springs Road a short time later, Hedden said.
Police said the driver also tried to run away on foot and struggled with the officers who captured him.
The California Highway Patrol is investigating the crash, police said.
Officers with the Los Banos-area CHP office did not respond to phone calls seeking comment Saturday.
The veteran coach said three of the people have been released from the hospital, including the driver. Two of the boys remained hospitalized Saturday, including one, he said, who suffered a broken leg.
Snapp said the driver was not taken into custody after his release Saturday from the hospital.
“They (investigators) will be looking at (toxicology) tests to determine what happens next,” Snapp said.
Initially Snapp was told four of the boys involved in the crash had been treated and released from the hospital. He later learned two boys were still in the hospital on Saturday.
“I spoke to one of the boys this morning. He was very remorseful and regretted it,” Snapp said.
Snapp said the incident was “unfortunate.” He said all players had been reminded of the driving dangers on holiday weekends such as Memorial Day weekend.
“We ended spring practice on Thursday and told all the kids to be careful and safe this weekend and to make good choices,” Snapp said. “It’s something that needs to be reiterated by us and also reiterated by parents, too.”
Snapp said he hopes the crash serves as “an eye opener.”
“Unfortunately, there are about 150 people involved in our program and something like this puts us all in a bad light,” Snapp said. “When you sign up to play for us, you represent our program everywhere you go.”
Snapp said it was too early to know exactly what sort of disciplinary measures the team may take, but said, “there will be consequences.”
“Obviously we don’t want our kids out smoking pot or drinking or making those types of bad choices,” Snapp said. “But we also want to try and be as supportive of them as we can. We don’t want to turn our backs on our kids, but there will be repercussions. This isn’t the sort of thing we condone or tolerate.
“But, really,” he said, “I just thank God that we’re not going to any funerals.”
Rob Parsons: 209-385-2482