A 45-year-old Atwater man suffered "severe" injuries Thursday evening when he was struck by a car driven by a man who already was fleeing the scene of a separate crash and was being chased by a citizen, the Police Department reported.
Chief Samuel Joseph said the driver of a 1990 Honda Accord was involved in a non-injury, hit-and-run collision shortly before 6 p.m. in the Food 4 Less parking lot on Shaffer Road, near Juniper Avenue and High Street. The Accord struck a 2006 GMC sport-utility vehicle and sped away from the scene, according to investigators.
The driver of the GMC, identified by police as Barbara Roberts of Atwater, pursued the driver of the Honda, causing a high-speed chase, according to police.
The chase wound through numerous streets before heading north on High Street "at a high rate of speed," Joseph said.
Police said the Honda's driver "attempted to turn east onto Juniper Avenue after running a stop sign, however, was unable to negotiate the turn" and crashed into a 2014 Harley Davidson and its rider, identified by police as Eddie Torres of Atwater.
Joseph described Torres' injuries as "severe," but said, "they don't appear to be life threatening." Torres was flown to a Modesto-area hospital for treatment. An update on his condition was not immediately available Friday.
The police chief said he "can understand" Roberts' desire to chase after the suspect, but said, "It's never a good idea."
"We know people want to help and we appreciate it, but you should leave (the chase) to us because (chasing) a suspect like that can lead to unfortunate situations like this," Joseph said. "The best thing you can do is provide us with information and let us handle the rest. Obviously, it's unintentional, but it can cause other issues like this."
After the collision with the motorcycle, police said, the Honda's driver crashed in the backyard of a nearby home, abandoned the car and last was seen running east on Juniper Avenue.
Investigators described the driver as a thin unshaven Hispanic male adult believed to be in his late 20s, standing about 5-foot, 9-inches to 5-foot, 11-inches tall with dark hair. He was wearing a black shirt and may go by the name of "Carlos."
Anyone with information about the crash or the driver's whereabouts is asked to contact Atwater Police detectives at 209-357-3694.