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Car hits pole, knocks out power for 1,368

A Planada man received minor injuries Monday morning when his four-door sedan struck a sign and power pole at 1300 E. Olive Ave., starting a small fire and knocking out power for 1,368 Pacific Gas and Electric Co. customers.

Lt. Floyd Higdon of the Merced Police Department said a 1995 Ford Taurus driven by Steven Christopher Perez, 19, of Planada struck a the speed-limit sign, a mailbox and shattered the PG&E pole at ground level in the 10:47 a.m. accident.

Perez was booked into Merced County Jail on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and three felony charges of possession of 22 ounces of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and transportation of marijuana. Perez posted $31,653 bond and was released, according to a correctional official.

Perez' Taurus had been traveling westbound at an undetermined speed when it left the road. The collision caused the vehicle to make a 180-degree turn to face eastbound where it came to rest on the street.

Higdon said a small patch of grass between the curb and the sidewalk had burned, but was out prior to officers' arrival. PG&E representatives reported that 1,368 homes initially lost power. A utility representative said all but 74 customers had power restored by mid-evening.

Perez, alone in the car, was treated for minor injuries on the scene by an ambulance crew before he was taken to jail.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209-385-2485 or