Wrong-way driver crashes into MPD officer, booked for alleged DUI

A 29-year-old alleged wrong-way driver was booked on suspicion of DUI Saturday after crashing into an on-duty Merced police officer's car.

Fortunately, no one was hurt.

The incident was reported around 2 a.m. at Main and M streets, according to the California Highway Patrol. Crystal Genel was driving a 2001 Lincoln LS northbound in the southbound lane of M Street, said officer John Patterson, CHP spokesman.

Meanwhile, Merced police officer Brian Bowen was driving his 2008 Ford Crown Victoria patrol car westbound on Main Street and had stopped for a red light at M Street. The roadway was wet because of rain.

For unknown reasons, Genel's Lincoln went out of control to the right, moving across the northbound lanes of M Street and crashing into the front of Bowen's patrol car.

CHP conducted the investigation at the request of Merced police. Genel was determined to be driving under the influence. She was booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of misdemeanor DUI.

Patterson said the crash remains under investigation.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or