Authorities say a man suspected of being under the influence of alcohol and drugs drove a black Ford F-150 into the side of the Church of Christ on Yosemite Park Way and Edwards Avenue on Thursday afternoon.
Robert Tussey, 38, of Merced, and a passenger fled the scene after colliding into the church's restrooms. The keys were still hanging in the ignition of the truck. Water damage was evident inside the church.
Tussey was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, drug charges, hit-and-run and driving on a suspended license.
The passenger was released.
"The driver said he lost control due to loose gravel," explained California Highway Patrol officer Christian Lara. "After the traffic collision, they fled the scene and were found by the Merced Police Department at the owner's residence."
Lara said Tussey wasn't the owner of the vehicle. The car belonged to the passenger's father.
The CHP was called to the scene because the incident occurred on a Merced County road.
Tussey was transported to Merced County Jail.
Reporter Ameera Butt can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or firstname.lastname@example.org.