Authorities identify teen killed in north Modesto crash

07/22/2014 9:34 AM

07/22/2014 10:29 PM

A teenager killed in a collision between a car and a bicycle in north Modesto on Monday night has been identified as Joseph Thomas Johnson, 17, of Modesto.

The Stanislaus County Coroner’s Office confirmed the identification Tuesday morning.

Johnson was riding a mountain bicycle with Eric Collins, also 17 and from Modesto, when the accident occurred at Keller Street and Sylvan Avenue at 8:45 p.m.

Collins was listed in critical condition late Monday. He remained hospitalized Tuesday, Modesto police traffic Officer Scott Nelson said.

Collins, who was riding on the handlebars of the mountain bike, suffered a broken ankle, a fractured pelvis and a laceration to his head, but no internal injuries, Nelson said. “He got the least of (the impact).”

Witnesses said the boys were southbound, crossing Sylvan at Keller near Beyer High School. They may have gone through a red light, witnesses told police.

Nelson said it appears the boys were heading out of the nearby skate park.

The intersection, controlled by a traffic light, is heavily traveled by pedestrians and bicyclists going from Beyer Park to the neighborhoods across Sylvan.

A 2014 Volkswagen Jetta, heading east on Sylvan, hit the bicycle.

The driver, identified by Nelson as Katherine Bakus, 23, of Modesto, was not hurt.

Modesto police spokeswoman Heather Graves said it appears alcohol may have been a factor in the accident. “There were some containers found at the scene,” she said.

Authorities believe the boys, who were not wearing helmets, may have been drinking. Investigators are awaiting results of an autopsy on Johnson to determine his blood alcohol level.

Nelson said Bakus showed no obvious signs of intoxication. “We actually had a drug recognition expert come out and administer several field sobriety tests,” he said.

It is not clear who was at fault in the crash. “We’re still trying to piece together the evidence,” Nelson said. “We’re trying to establish the speed from any evidence left in the roadway.”

Nelson said there have been 10 fatal vehicle collisions in Modesto this year, resulting in the deaths of 13 people. Two other serious accidents have taken place at the same intersection in the past five months, he said; one resulted in a fatality and the other in serious injuries. Both involved bicyclists or pedestrians and a car.

“In two out of three, the pedestrian or bicyclist was under the influence of alcohol.”

Investigators ask anyone with information on the incident or who saw the crash to contact traffic Officer Billy Boyle at (209) 652-3167.

Callers also can contact Crime Stoppers by sending a text message to 274637. Type “TIP704” along with your message.

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