State

Police: Vandalism led to wreck

A 14-year-old girl armed with a baseball bat sparked the confrontation that ended in a serious car accident Monday night, police said.

On Tuesday, the girl, a 16-year-old boy and a 21-year-old woman remained hospitalized with major injuries from the wreck. The 21-year-old sustained life-threatening injuries, said CHP spokesman Eric Parsons.

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

A Kia Spectra, with the woman and the two teens inside, was racing through the intersection when it clipped a Kia Sportage and flipped over. The airborne Spectra landed on the hood and windshield of a 2007 GMC Denali.

"It was the loudest boom and the weirdest sensation you'd never want to have," said Denali passenger Keith Mize. He and his brother sustained minor injuries.

The violent collision marked the end of a confrontation that started about a mile and a half away, police said.

Two Modesto women looking at a house for sale on San Ramos Way near Jardin Way saw someone spray painting gang graffiti on a fence. The women spotted a silver Spectra — later identified as the vehicle carrying the woman and the two teens — nearby with people inside.

When the women confronted the suspected vandals, a verbal argument ensued. Sgt. Brian Findlen, a Modesto police spokesman, said the suspected vandals made "gang references" and tried to intimidate the two women.

Next, the 14-year-old girl grabbed a baseball bat from the Spectra, police said. The girl swung the bat at the women and their car, Findlen said. The women were not injured in the attack, but their car was struck several times, police said.

At some point, the women called 911.

The women told police they had been assaulted and their car had been vandalized.

At Rancho Encantado Lane and Hatch Road, a Modesto police officer saw the Spectra run a stop sign. The officer caught up with the Spectra at Hatch and Carpenter, and pulled the car over. When the officer stepped out of his patrol car, the Spectra sped away, Findlen said.

The officer turned on his vehicle's lights and sirens and followed the Spectra, but not for long, Findlen said. When the Spectra swerved into oncoming traffic to pass slower cars, the officer stopped his chase.

"In this case, he decided that the reckless nature of this driver far outweighed the need to continue following," Findlen said.

Moments after turning off his car's lights and sirens, the officer saw the Spectra lose control at Carpenter and Whitmore.

Keith and Matthew Mize, the two brothers in the Denali, pulled over to the side of the road when they saw the lights and sirens. Seconds later, the airborne Spectra tumbled toward their vehicle.

"I just kind of braced, put my hands up, turned my head and closed my eyes," Keith Mize said. "It happened so fast I didn't have time to think anything except, 'Oh crap.' "

The Spectra landed upside down. All three people inside suffered major injuries, according to the CHP.

The 14-year-old girl was arrested on suspicion of vandalism, assault with a deadly weapon and association with a criminal street gang, said Findlen. Detectives are investigating the incident. No charges have been filed against the 16-year-old boy and 21-year-old woman.

When police returned to the spray painted fence Tuesday, the graffiti had been painted over, Findlen said.

Bee staff writer Leslie Albrecht can be reached at lalbrecht@modbee.com or 578-2378.

  Comments