Modesto cyclist struck by driver accused earlier of road rage, police say

etracy@modbee.comJune 26, 2014 

Tony Rocha

MODESTO POLICE DEPARTMENT

A Modesto man is recovering from surgery after being hit by a stolen van police say was driven by a man who’d been stopped by officers in a suspected road-rage incident 30 minutes earlier.

Modesto police first stopped the man in a red Chevrolet Astro van at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday at Briggsmore Avenue and Tully Road after a person called to report that a driver was trying to run him off the road, said police spokeswoman Heather Graves.

The driver who’d called police didn’t want to proceed with criminal charges against the man, so police let the driver of the van go.

Thirty minutes later, a red van hit a man on a bicycle at Oakdale Road and Peppermint Drive, Graves said.

Kaila Knudsen said her brother Ken Knudsen heard the van accelerate toward him and tried to jump off his bicycle, but was struck by the vehicle.

She said her brother’s right leg is broken and he has a cut on his head. He underwent surgery on his leg Wednesday.

Kaila Knudsen said Thursday that she hadn’t heard from police about what happened to the driver.

It turns out he was arrested later that night when he ran out of gas at Claus and Plainview roads, just north of Modesto, Graves said.

Sheriff’s deputies responding to a report of a man stealing a gas can from a home found Tony Rocha walking toward the Astro van.

Rocha, 34, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and auto theft. The Astro van he was driving was stolen but had not been reported as such, Graves said.

Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at etracy@modbee.com or (209) 578-2366. Follow her on Twitter @ModestoBeeCrime.

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