Modesto officer rear-ends SUV on McHenry

A Modesto police officer in a black-and-white patrol car hit a Ford Explorer just before 4 p.m. Monday, officials said.

The squad car and the Ford were driving north on McHenry Avenue just south of Briggsmore Avenue when the officer ran into the Explorer, said traffic officer Romel Cuellar of the Modesto Police Department.

The accident slowed traffic on McHenry as people tried to get a glimpse of the police car, its hood creased in half, its bumper drooping low to the ground.

"I've never seen that before," one driver called out.

Police are still trying to determine who is at fault, but the officer did hit the back of the Ford, Cuellar said.

No one was injured, but a passenger in the Ford reported back pain. He refused medical care, police said.

"All I felt was a car hitting me when we were kind of slowing down," said Jonathan Kelly, 35, of Modesto. "It took my hat off. And I wear it pretty tight."

Kelly was in the back seat of the Ford. His son-in-law, Jose Ramirez, 24, was driving. Ramirez's 2-year-old son, Mark Anthony, also was in the Ford.

The speed limit is 30 mph in that section of McHenry. Police spokesman Sgt. Craig Gundlach said the squad car was going 15 to 20 mph when it hit the sport utility vehicle.

Police towed the Ford because Ramirez didn't have a license, Cuellar said. The vehicle was properly insured. The police car also was towed.

While Ramirez and his family waited for a ride, one traffic officer let Mark Anthony sit on his motorcycle to pass the time.

State law allows police to withhold the name of officers involved in incidents for 24 hours. Cuellar said the officer had not been injured and already was back to work.

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