A Modesto police officer and the driver he pulled over made a grim discovery Thursday morning: a man who hanged himself from a tree down the embankment from Highway 99.
About 6:15 a.m., the officer contacted dispatch for aid with an apparent dead body off northbound Highway 99 near the Kansas Avenue off ramp just north of downtown. Follow-up radio communication said the deceased was hanging from a tree.
Minutes earlier, the officer attempted a traffic stop at Seventh and H streets, but the driver didn't yield until he was followed onto the highway, Police Department spokeswoman Heather Graves said.
As the officer was dealing with the driver, they spotted the hanging man, she said. He quickly was cut down from the tree, and medical responders evaluated him to see if CPR would be performed. "Unfortunately, he was already deceased," Graves said, adding that there was no indication of foul play.
No estimate of when the man hanged himself was available Thursday afternoon.
An 8:14 a.m. post on the Modesto/Stanislaus County Neighborhood Watch page on Facebook warned that drivers should expect delays on northbound 99 because of the traffic stop and the suicide response.
The officer who pulled to the side clearly could see the body hanging in a cluster of trees. A caller to The Bee said she, too, saw the hanging figure but thought it probably was a scarecrow.
Any time there's police or California Highway Patrol activity on the side of the highway, traffic slows, Graves said. She drove on northbound 99 in that area about 6:40 and said traffic was slow but not stop-and-go.
As for the driver the officer stopped? John Parga, 26, of Turlock was arrested for possession of a controlled substance for sale, transportation of a controlled substance and two warrants, Graves said.