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Suspected drunken driver crumples man's vintage Ford Mustang

Rick Tanaka purchased a 1967 Ford Mustang on Friday. Tanaka parked the vintage vehicle in the 800 block of East Olive Avenue at 11:30 p.m. when he brought the car home.

At 1:47 a.m. Saturday, a suspected drunken driver ran into the Mustang. Both the 1997 Toyota Camry belonging to Marine Franco III, 43, of Merced, and Tanaka's Mustang were destroyed in the accident and ensuing fire, according to Sgt. Jay Struble of the Merced Police Department.

Struble said Franco drifted to the right side of the road, striking the 1967 Ford Mustang, which was parked on the street. The Toyota Camry pushed the Ford Mustang approximately 50 feet where both vehicles came to rest and caught fire. There were no injuries as a result of the accident but both vehicles appeared to be a total loss.

Franco was arrested on charges of driving under the influence, Struble said. Franco's blood-alcohol level was 0.25, three times the legal limit. Franco was booked into Merced County Jail for driving under the influence of alcohol and later released on his own recognizance, according to a correctional official.

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