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Gang graffiti confrontation led to Modesto wreck that hurt 5

AFTERNOON UPDATE - The car accident that left three people seriously injured Monday night started with a confrontation over a vandalized fence, police said.

Two Modesto women found gang signs painted on a fence near San Ramos Way and Jardin Lane in southwest Modesto, said Modesto police spokesman Sgt. Brian Findlen.

When the women confronted a 14-year-old girl and two people with her nearby, police said, the 14-year-old grabbed a baseball bat and started swinging at the women and their car. The women were not injured in the attack.

Editor's note: The initial report that the girl was seen spray-painting the fence was incorrect.

The women then got into their car and chased the 14-year-old girl, who was in a silver Kia Spectra driven by a 21-year-old woman. A 16-year-old boy was also in the Spectra.

A Modesto police officer saw the Spectra run a stop sign at West Hatch Road and Rancho Encantado Lane.

The officer pulled over the Spectra on Carpenter just south of Hatch. As the officer stepped out of his patrol car, the Spectra took off, Findlen said.

“They took off so quickly that they were kicking rocks and dirt all over the patrol car.”

The officer turned on his lights and sirens and followed the Spectra southbound on Carpenter. He stopped chasing the Spectra after he saw the Spectra driving recklessly, said Findlen.

A short while later, the Spectra’s driver lost control and the car flipped over, landing on top of a 2007 Denali. The two people in the Denali were slightly injured.

All three people in the Spectra were seriously injured and remained hospitalized today. The 21-year-old driver sustained life-threatening injuries, said CHP spokesman Officer Eric Parsons.

The 14-year-old girl has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon, vandalism, and association with a criminal street gang, said Findlen.

The CHP is investigating the accident. No charges have been filed yet against the 21-year-old driver, said Findlen.

Morning version of story:

What started as a report of vandalism ended with a high-speed collision that left five people hurt Monday evening. Their identities and conditions were not available.

The collision happened about 6:50 p.m. on Carpenter Road south of Whitmore Avenue.

According to Modesto police Detective Darren Ruskamp, officers responded to a vandalism call. Ruskamp didn't know where the call was, but said the victim of the vandalism was chasing the suspect before officers arrived.

"An officer happened to see these vehicles racing past him and was able to stop the suspect," Ruskamp said. As the officer approached the silver Kia Spectra, the driver took off down Carpenter Road, he said.

Gerardo Valencia said he was driving south on Carpenter when he saw the Kia Spectra behind him, "passing five cars."

Valencia, 43, who had his three children in his Kia Sportage, tried to get out of the way, but the other car hit his left front fender. The Spectra rolled and landed on the top of a black 2007 Yukon Denali, headed north on Carpenter, the California Highway Patrol said. The CHP is handling the investigation because it happened outside the city limit.

The Spectra and the Denali came to rest in an orchard on the east side of Carpenter.

CHP Sgt. Jason Bartlett said the Spectra was making an "unsafe passing movement" around the Sportage when the cars collided, rotating the Spectra and sending it into the northbound Denali.

The 21-year-old woman driving the Spectra and her two passengers, a male, 16, and a female, 14, were trapped in the car. They all suffered major injuries, with the driver's considered life-threatening, Bartlett said.

It took nearly an hour to extricate the driver. The two people in the Denali were hurt and taken to hospitals.

Valencia told the CHP he had planned to turn left at the intersection, but when he saw emergency lights in his rearview mirror, he pulled onto the right shoulder, where the Spectra hit his car.

But Ruskamp said police were never in pursuit of the suspect, and the accident happened before the officer even got back into his patrol car.

"We were uninvolved other than the officer did make the traffic stop," Ruskamp said.

The wreck blocked traffic on Carpenter until 8:50 p.m.

Bee staff writer Leslie Albrecht contributed to this report.



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