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FRIENDS HELP STOP KIDNAP TRY: Police say two men helped rescue their friend from an attempted kidnapping Wednesday as the woman walked near the 500 block of North Lincoln Avenue in Manteca. Police spokesman Rex Osborn said the 21-year-old woman was grabbed on the street and forced into a car by a man whom she had been dating but recently had broken up with. The man, identified by police as Jayson Hughes, 29, of Manteca, had refused to end the relationship, Osborn said. The two friends helped the woman escape from the car, Osborn said. He said when police interviewed her, she told them Hughes had invited her to his home earlier in the week and forcibly sexually assaulted her and then threatened to kill her and a child if she reported the attack. Hughes was arrested and is being held without bail at the San Joaquin County Jail on suspicion of domestic battery, forcible sodomy, kidnapping, making terrorist threats, dissuading a witness and a parole violation.

WOMEN HURT IN CHAIN-REACTION WRECK: An Escalon woman suffered serious injuries Thursday when a man driving an SUV onto the Beckwith Avenue offramp from southbound Highway 99 slammed into her sport utility vehicle, the California Highway Patrol reported. Wendy Yates, 40, sustained hemorrhaging and factures in her spine and skull, CHP officer Richard Kennell said. Her 20-year-old daughter, who was driving, has minor injuries, including a possibly broken arm. Rusty Williams, 49, of Ripon somehow failed to realize the vehicles in front of him were stopped at a signal, Kennell said. Around 1:25 p.m., he hit Yates, who then hit the SUV in front of her, which, in turn, hit a pickup truck ahead of it. The off-ramp was closed for about 50 minutes, causing a major backup at the next exit, Briggsmore Avenue, Kennell said.

RASH OF FIRES 'SUSPICIOUS': Six fence and trash fires Thursday within 40 minutes in a 10-block radius were "certainly suspicious," said Modesto Fire Department Battalion Chief Dan Hinshaw. It appears that someone set the fires between 4:39 and 5:20 p.m. around the neighborhood northwest of El Vista Avenue and Yosemite Boulevard. One fire, on the 2000 block of Bellamy Street, damaged a detached garage; total damage caused by the fire was about $5,000, Hinshaw said. Anyone with information about the fires should call the Modesto fire investigator's office at 572-9597.

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