Driver dies after vehicle crashes into palm tree near Patterson

A 57-year-old man died early Tuesday when his sport utility vehicle crashed into a palm tree along a rural road a few miles east of Patterson, the California Highway Patrol reported.

Richard Moon, the driver in the crash, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Stanislaus County Coroner’s Office.

The deadly crash was reported shortly before 12:30 a.m. on East Las Palmas Avenue, just east of Elm Avenue. CHP officers and medics were called to the crash site.

When the officers arrived, they found the 1993 Jeep SUV had crashed into the tree, the CHP announced in a news release. The Jeep had been heading west on Las Palmas at an unknown speed.

The CHP said Moon — for unknown reasons — turned the vehicle. The Jeep left the road and continued onto the north shoulder of the road, before the SUV crashed into the palm tree.

Moon was pinned in the driver’s seat and suffered fatal injuries. The CHP had not determined whether alcohol or drugs was a contributing factor in the crash.

The CHP said Moon was not wearing his seat belt. The crash was still under investigation Tuesday morning.

Rosalio Ahumada writes news stories about criminal court cases in Stanislaus County for The Modesto Bee, issues related to immigration and immigrant communities and breaking news related to crime and public safety. From time to time, he covers the Modesto City Council meetings. He has worked as a news reporter in the Northern San Joaquin Valley since 2004.