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Atwater man arrested after leading deputies on pursuit

A 25-year-old Atwater man was arrested Saturday, after Merced County Sheriff's deputies say he led them in a pursuit from the Beachwood area to Atwater.

Suspect Cody Clark was booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of evading a police officer while driving recklessly, in addition to driving under the influence of a controlled substance, according to Tom MacKenzie, sheriff's spokesman.

The pursuit began around 3 a.m. after Deputy Patrick Heaney saw the registration on Clark's blue 2002 Ford F150 truck had expired. The deputy stopped Clark on Oakland Avenue, near Meadowbrook Avenue.

After the deputy made the vehicle stop, however, Clark kept his engine on. The deputy also observed that Clark looked nervous and exhibited signs of being under the influence. After the deputy asked Clark to turn off the engine, the suspect drove away at a high rate of speed, MacKenzie said.Deputies followed Clark, who was reaching speeds of 85 mph in residential areas. On Franklin Road, Clark lost control of his truck and crashed into a mailbox post, ending up in the front yard of a home. His truck stopped about 18 feet away from the house.

Even though Clark damaged a front tire, he kept driving, traveling on Highway 99 towards Atwater. The damaged tire came off the rim, and Clark continued driving, exiting on Buhach Road. He nearly crashed into another car near Avenue One, MacKenzie said.

The truck came to a stop at Avenue One near Miramonte Drive in Atwater. Several deputies and officers from the Atwater Police Department surrounded Clark's truck, and he surrendered. Clark told deputies that he drove away because he has a misdemeanor warrant for his arrest in San Bernardino.

Clark also said he'd taken the truck from someone without their permission. He added that he was trying call the truck's owner during the pursuit -- to ask if it was "ok" for him to borrow the truck.

He's being held at the Merced County Jail in lieu of $60,000 bail.

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