June 22, 2012

One killed as packed SUV rolls in east Modesto

One person died and several others were injured when the driver of the Chevrolet Suburban they were riding in lost control of the vehicle and crashed in east Modesto. The crash occurred at 12:30 p.m. on Claus Road just south of Floyd Avenue.

One person died and several others were injured when the driver of the Chevrolet Suburban in which they were riding lost control of the vehicle and crashed in east Modesto.

The sport utility vehicle was heading north on Claus Road just south of Floyd Avenue at 12:32 p.m. when it veered off the road. The driver tried to get back on the road and overcorrected, causing the vehicle to roll several times before coming to rest on its roof on a church lawn.

There were 12 people in an SUV designed for eight occupants, according to Sgt. Ivan Valencia of the Modesto Police Department. Several were not wearing seat belts.

Among the seven hospitalized was an 18-year-old man who later died from his injuries. His name has not been released.

Alcohol or drugs do not appear to have been a factor in the wreck, Valencia said.

The ages of the occupants ranged from 16 years old to 43 years old. Two of the occupants left the scene before police arrived.

It appeared that no other vehicle was involved in the crash.

Sgt. Pat Kimes said the people in the SUV were heading to a cookout at a nearby river, possibly the Stanislaus River just north of Riverbank. The SUV's roof was crushed, and the lawn in front of The Well Community Fellowship church in the 2500 block of Claus was littered with back packs, packaged hot dogs, ketchup and mustard bottles, and a bag of charcoal briquettes.

Four ambulances called

Mark Johansen, battalion chief for the Modesto Regional Fire Authority, said the people were all out of the vehicle when firefighters arrived. Four ambulances were called.

One young man, who did not appear to have been injured, was detained and questioned by police. He initially was handcuffed and was sitting next to a tree on the church lawn as people in the SUV were loaded into ambulances.

Before he was detained, the young man could be heard yelling "Call my mom" a few times as passers-by stopped to help. Police believed the detained man was the driver; however, that had not been confirmed.

Kimes said the young man had not been arrested, and officers soon removed the handcuffs. Police officers detained him as a precaution before determining whether alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash.

Witness: Two left the scene

One woman at the scene said she didn't see the crash happen but had stopped to help. She said she saw two females running from the overturned SUV, who indicated they couldn't stick around because they were on probation.

She said people who had gotten out of the wrecked SUV were helping to pull out others still inside.

The Modesto police Major Accident Investigation Team arrived later at the crash site to take measurements and look for possible evidence.

Claus was closed to traffic in both directions for nearly four hours before the road was reopened.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or (209) 578-2394.

Raw video minutes after the accident

Law enforcement discusses accident

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