Crash hurts 3, causes blackout in Escalon, Ripon, Valley Home

ESCALON -- More than 5,500 PG&E customers in Valley Home, Ripon and Escalon were without electricity for more than an hour early Wednesday after a car went off a road about four miles north of town and nearly knocked over an electrical transmission tower, authorities said.

The driver of the Mitsubishi Eclipse, 23-year-old Jesus Mata of Escalon, suffered major injuries and was taken by ambulance to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, said officer Angel Arceo, a California Highway Patrol spokesman.

A Doctors spokeswoman said Mata was in fair condition Wednesday.

Officers arrested Mata on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, Arceo said. Arceo added that Mata will be booked at San Joaquin County Jail after he's released from the hospital.

He said two female passengers in the Mitsubishi suffered minor injuries and were taken by ambulance to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto. Their names and ages were not available.

The driver and the passengers were wearing seat belts.

The crash occurred shortly after 2 a.m. in the 25000 block of Dodds Road, just west of Escalon Bellota Road.

Arceo said the Mitsubishi was heading east on Dodds at high speed when the car went off the south side of the road, crashed through a fence and struck the transmission tower.

The driver and the passengers did not suffer electrical shocks. While the 75-foot Pacific Gas & Electric Co. tower nearly fell to the ground, the power lines did not fall, PG&E spokeswoman Nicole Liebelt said.

Liebelt said about 5,590 customers lost power. She said all but 175 of them had their power restored by 3:30 a.m. She said the 175 customers had power restored by 8:30 a.m.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at or 578-2394.