Crime

Rock-throwing man damages cars on Pacheco Pass, witnesses say. CHP investigating

Damage to an Econoline van is shown in this photo taken Monday, Aug. 13, 2018, after witnesses said a man was throwing rocks at vehicles traveling east on Highway 152 one to two miles east of Casa De Fruta on Pacheco Pass.
Damage to an Econoline van is shown in this photo taken Monday, Aug. 13, 2018, after witnesses said a man was throwing rocks at vehicles traveling east on Highway 152 one to two miles east of Casa De Fruta on Pacheco Pass. Courtesy Nicole Angeles

Gustine mom Nicole Angeles said she was driving her family back from a “fun trip” to Casa De Fruta on Monday night on Highway 152 when her husband yelled that a man was dangerously close to the car.

“I thought the man ran onto the roadway and we hit him,” Angeles said, noting something struck the passenger-side rear door of the family’s Econoline van as it traveled east one to two miles past Casa de Fruta.

After the impact, Angeles’ husband said he saw the man throw a rock at the car. The rock cracked the tempered window and sent a shower of glass onto their sleeping son.

While trying to find a place to stop on the highway’s right shoulder to call 9-1-1, they found several other cars stopped on the roadside. Those cars appeared to have been damaged as well, she said.

California Highway Patrol Gilroy officers responded to the incident after multiple 9-1-1 calls came of a man throwing rocks at a car at about 9:10 p.m., Officer Drew Mendonca said.

Four cars reported damage, including shattered windows, dents and a flat tire on one car, he said.

Witnesses reported to CHP the suspect was standing by the Pacheco Creek bridge. But officers who searched the area were unable to locate a person fitting the description, Mendonca said, noting the investigation was ongoing.

“There’s a real potential for harm there,” Mendonca said. “Even if you’re just standing still and a rock is thrown at you, there is some damage. Imagine if you’re driving at 65 mph.”

The first thing for motorists to do if faced with a similar situation is to call 9-1-1, Mendonca said.

Their son was still sleeping in the car seat and not injured, Angeles said. But others who stopped were visibly shaken, telling Angeles the same white male in shorts threw softball-sized rocks at their cars too.

Several rocks littered the roadway, she said may have caused at least one flat tire. But they couldn’t find the rock-throwing man.

“We were all pretty paranoid,” Angeles said. “We didn’t know where the man was.”

Angeles posted the frightening encounter on her personal Facebook page and on several Los Banos area community pages late Monday night. Some people commented, claiming they also were struck by a man throwing rocks. Some said they had seen a suspicious individual matching the description along Highway 152.

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