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Four escape crash into canal with minor injuries

Four vacationing German college students escaped serious injury Wednesday afternoon when the car they were riding in went out of control and overturned in an irrigation ditch near Merced.

Boas Samuel Schwartz, 21, was taken to the Community Campus of Mercy Medical Center Merced for treatment of apparent minor injuries following the 12:25 p.m. accident on Highway 140 west of Dell Street.

Jeff Hawks, community service officer for the Merced Police Department, said the Geo Prizm four-door sedan driven by Schwartz veered to the right, the driver overcorrected, the vehicle went out of control and landed upside-down in a concrete-lined irrigation ditch. There was no water in the ditch.

Hawks said Schwartz, Vera Schulze, 20, Elias Roller, 21, and Andreas Schott, 20, were returning to San Rafael from Yosemite National Park when the accident happened. They were turned back from Yosemite because their borrowed vehicle did not have tire chains. The students are touring the western United States during a break from college classes in Germany.

All four in the car were wearing seat belts and alcohol or drugs were not involved in the crash. The vehicle was demolished, Hawks said.

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