Missing man found dead in his van

The California Highway Patrol found a missing Patterson man dead in his van Monday near Del Puerto Creek after an apparent crash, the agency said Tuesday.

Acquaintances reported 40-year-old Glen Curtis missing Saturday, CHP officer John Martinez said. They last saw him about 11:15 a.m. Friday, when Curtis had been painting a house in Patterson.

About 7:20 a.m. Sunday, a motorist called the CHP to report a vehicle off the roadway near southbound Interstate 5 north of Sperry Avenue in Patterson, Martinez said. The officer, however, could not find the vehicle.

About 10 a.m. Monday, a passenger in a big rig reported a van down an embankment in the area. The officer was able to contact the passenger for a more precise location of the wreck.

"It was impossible to see the brown van unless you were seated up high," Martinez said.

The officer saw the 2000 Chevrolet about 120 feet down a steep dirt embankment, then walked to the overturned van and found Curtis between the cargo van's two front seats. Curtis was unresponsive, and the officer determined he was dead. The van had reached the bank of Del Puerto Creek, he reported.

Curtis had been in the slow lane on I-5 near Sperry Road when, for unknown reasons, his van drifted to the right and off the west edge of the highway, according to a CHP report.

There was no indication of drug or alcohol use, and Curtis was not wearing a seat belt, Martinez said.

"The main trauma appears to be with his head," but there was no way to know whether a seat belt could have saved Curtis' life, Martinez said. "We can always predict that the chances of surviving an accident are going to be much better, regardless of the severity of the accident, if you're wearing a seat belt."

Eight people have died in the region during the past two weeks from fatal car wrecks. Among them are a man who died Thursday when his car veered off Highway 132; a woman who was killed Friday on Scenic Drive when she and another driver collided; and a man who drove off Sylvan Avenue on Sunday morning.

Bee staff writer Emilie Raguso can be reached at eraguso@modbee.com or 578-2235.