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Collision sends car spinning into Merced residence

Andres Escoto has lived for a year at the corner of R Street and West North Bear Creek Drive and knew it was a matter of time before a vehicle came crashing into his house following another accident at the busy intersection.

His premonition came true Sunday night when a Ford Explorer came crashing through a bedroom window, showering the four occupants of the front bedroom with glass fragments but not hurting anyone. The driver of the Explorer and a passenger received minor injuries.

The driver of a Dodge pickup truck which struck the Explorer at R Street and Bear Creek Drive fled the scene but was arrested minutes later, hiding in underbrush along the bank of Bear Creek, Sgt. Alan Ward of the Merced Police Department said.

Adan Silva Garcia, 44, of Merced, was booked into Merced County Jail on charges of running a red light, leaving the scene of an injury accident and driving under the influence causing injury. He remained jailed Monday night in lieu of $100,000 bail, a correctional official said.

Garcia's speeding truck went through a red signal light at the intersection and hit the Explorer driven by John Vang, 22, of Merced, with such force it caused the vehicle to spin several times and then hit and knock over one of four supporting stone pillars at the front of the house.

After knocking the pillar over, Vang's sport-utility vehicle then plowed into the northwest corner of the residence at 1111 W. North Bear Creek Drive, Sgt. Bob Chapman said.

Escoto said he was sitting on the edge of the bed chatting with three others in the house when he heard a crumbling sound and thought a nearby BNSF Railway train might have hit a car. About a second later, he was knocked off the bed by the force of the Explorer bursting into the room.

"I saw glass flying over our heads. I stayed down, wasn't sure if the car was going to go over." Escoto said. "The hood of the car caught fire. Then I helped the passenger out through the passenger window."

Realtor David Maclachlan of Nuestra Casa of Merced, which is listing the house for sale, said the out-of-state owner is enroute to Merced to assess the damage. He said no dollar estimate is currently available but there is "quite a bit of damage." The owner's insurance company is doing its own investigation.

Escoto, 28, said nobody was hurt in the 9:46 p.m. accident. He has witnessed three accidents in the intersection in the last year. About six months ago trees in the front yard stopped a vehicle from crashing into the house.

The six members of the household had returned home about 20 minutes before after having a barbecue dinner at a downtown Merced restaurant and were discussing an impending trip to Mexico by some family members before retiring for the night, Escoto said.

Chapman said a witness followed Garcia to Bear Creek where he was arrested by officers. A passenger in Garcia's truck also fled from the scene.

The solid stone pillar was knocked down at its base by the force of the impact and the corner of the home was buckled when the car hit. The Explorer's front end was crushed and its roof buckled in the accident. The front end of the pickup also was demolished.

Vang received minor facial lacerations and a 16-year-old girl in the car was taken to the Community Campus of Mercy Medical Center Merced for treatment of pain in her elbow, Chapman said.

Ward said Merced Police Officer Sean Greene came upon a vehicle accident that had just occurred at the intersection. The Dodge pickup was still in the middle of the road in the 2800 block of R Street with no one inside it.

Garcia, who was westbound on Bear Creek Drive, was determined to have caused the accident by running a red light and hitting the Explorer, which was northbound on R Street, Ward said.

The passenger in Garcia's truck ran from the scene and has not been identified or located. Investigation of the accident is continuing, Ward said.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209 385-2485 or dyawger@mercedsun-star.com.

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