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Deputy's patrol car goes off road for unknown reason

A Merced County Sheriff's Department deputy responding to an assault call was taken to the hospital Thursday night as a precaution after his patrol car hit a power pole at Arboleda Drive and Woodland Avenue.

The deputy appeared to be uninjured following the 7:40 p.m. accident but was taken to the Community Campus of Mercy Medical Center Merced for observation, according to Deputy Tom MacKenzie, sheriff's department spokesman.

The deputy's name is not being released pending an internal investigation to determine if mechanical failure or operator error are to blame for the accident, MacKenzie said.

The deputy, proceeding at high speed with lights and siren activated, lost control of the vehicle before it hit the pole. The patrol unit's air bag deployed, resulting in possible bruising of the deputy.

MacKenzie said the deputy was enroute to Arboleda and Live Oak Drive to help another deputy with a man down in his front yard, covered with blood. The incident was an assault and battery, according to police.

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