Crime

Driver arrested on suspicion of DUI following crash near Merced, authorities say

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Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities increased in California in 2016, according to an Office of Traffic Safety report.
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Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities increased in California in 2016, according to an Office of Traffic Safety report.

One person has been arrested and flown to a hospital for injuries following a suspected DUI crash involving multiple vehicles near Merced, according to authorities.

Authorities said 27-year-old Merced resident Kristopher Thomas was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and transported by air ambulance to Memorial Hospital for injuries, following an investigation of a multi-vehicle collision on Highway 99 near Childs Avenue Wednesday night.

The California Highway Patrol said officers arrived at the scene of the collision at about 10:10 p.m. to find both northbound lanes completely blocked.

According to authorities, Thomas was driving a 2002 GMC truck northbound on the Childs Avenue on-ramp when he failed to maintain control of the vehicle and swerved directly into the path of a 2007 Ford motor home driven by 22-year-old Rochester, Minn., resident Henry Miller.

Authorities said, the front of the motor home then collided with the left side of the GMC truck. Following the collision, the truck drove off the east edge of the roadway before colliding with bushes and a chain link fence where it came to rest.

According to the CHP, 23-year-old Natalie Cervantes of Riverbank, was driving a 2014 Toyota Corolla at approximately 65 mph behind the motor home and 72-year-old Steven Clements of Stockton, was traveling behind the Toyota in a 2005 Ford pickup truck towing a trailer in the number two lane at approximately 55 mph.

Authorities said Cervantes took evasive action and swerved to the right attempting to avoid the collision. She then collided with a metal guardrail on the east edge of the roadway under Childs Avenue before being propelled back toward the left where the Toyota overturned and came to rest blocking the number one and number two northbound lanes.

Authorities said Clements swerved to the right to avoid the collision, diving off the east edge of the roadway where the vehicle collided with bushes and a chain link fence before coming to rest.

According to authorities, no other parties sustained visible injuries and the collision is still under investigation.

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