Modesto police Sgt. Steve May, who had been in a coma since being critically injured in a 2002 collision, died Thursday in a Modesto hospital. He was 53.
May suffered his injuries during a high-speed chase through Modesto's airport neighborhood on July 29, 2002.
Joshua Scott Corralejo, an 18-year-old Modestan wanted for assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer, had stolen a black GMC pickup. Reaching speeds of 60 to 65 mph on surface streets, he ran several stop signs before hitting May's patrol car broadside in the intersection of South Santa Cruz Avenue and Mono Drive.
The collision rammed May's car into a tree, pinning him inside the vehicle. He suffered a fractured skull, internal injuries and multiple broken bones.
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Corralejo died moments after hitting May when he lost control of the pickup and was ejected when it struck a house.
May never regained consciousness.
Throughout that time, his wife, Diana, spent every day at his bedside, never wavering even though his condition never really improved.
"I talk to him," she told The Bee in July 2004. "It's a one-sided conversation, but he's hearing my voice. I never give up hope. That doesn't mean I'm not a realist."
She has participated in annual motorcycle rides to honor fallen officers, including her husband, every Memorial Day since 2005.
Steve May also leaves behind two children: Corrine, 29, and Michael, 26.
"Steve was a great friend, a great police officer and a great leader," interim Modesto Police Chief Mike Harden said in a news release. "More importantly, Steve was a great husband and father.
"The department is deeply saddened with Steve's passing and our thoughts and prayers go out to Diana, their children, Steve's parents, sister and Steve's extended family at this very difficult time."
May became just the second Modesto police officer killed in the line of duty in the department's 118-year history. The other, officer Leo Robert Volk Jr., died May 21, 1973, also of injuries suffered in a vehicle pursuit.
May will be given a full police funeral next week.
Bee columnist Jeff Jardine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2383.
Condolences to the family may be sent in care of the Modesto Police Department, 600 10th St., Modesto 95354. Donations may be made to the Peace Officer Memorial Group of Stanislaus County, P.O. Box 577105, Modesto 95357.