Man dies after SUV goes into Modesto canal

06/20/2014 7:45 AM

06/20/2014 6:50 PM

Police are investigating a fatal accident involving a car going into a canal in Modesto on Friday morning.

According to police, officers and firefighters responded to a call of a car going into a canal at Briggsmore Avenue west of Tully Road at 6:40 a.m.

When they arrived, they found a silver Honda sport-utility vehicle on its roof in the canal, which was partially full. Several bystanders had worked together to free the driver, who was trapped. The man was taken to the edge of the canal, where CPR was initiated, said Modesto Regional Fire Authority Battalion Chief Cecil Ridge.

The driver was taken to Doctors Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, police Lt. Brian Findlen said. Police did not release the man’s name, pending notification of his family, but said he was 41 and from Stockton.

Findlen praised the people who tried to help the man. “The immediate and heroic actions of some of our citizens were extraordinary,” he said. “They did everything in their power to try to save this man’s life.”

Rosa Copp said she was headed to work in Tracy when she saw the incident. She called 911 as men jumped in and tried to pull the driver from the car.

“I ran across the street and got an ax from a neighbor,” she said in an email. The men used that until it broke, then went to work with a crowbar. Finally, one man managed to get the back door open and they pulled the man out that way.

“I didn’t think he would be alive,” Copp said. “I was praying so hard.”

Findlen said investigators had not yet established what caused the car to go into the canal, but it did not appear any other vehicles were involved. He said statements from a witness indicate the man in the SUV lost control of the car, which hit a curb before going back across the road and into the canal.

“At this point, we have no evidence that alcohol or drugs were a factor,” he said. “As the investigation proceeds, hopefully we will have some answers.”

Police closed westbound Briggsmore at Tully while officers investigated. The road was reopened at 10:30 a.m.

Police ask anyone who saw the incident to contact Officer Jeff Hopkins at (209) 652-3167 or Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636. Tipsters can email at, or text tips to CRIMES (274637) by typing “Tip704” plus a message and be eligible for a cash reward.

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