Stanislaus County Coroner's Office ID's Modesto-area crash victims

The identities of two men who died in vehicle accidents Sunday were released by the Stanislaus County coroner's office Tuesday.

Early Sunday, 21-year-old Modesto resident Federico Santiago died when the car he was riding in overturned on Highway 99 near Crows Landing Road.

The CHP said Jose Maria Serrato, 27, of Stockton was driving south on the highway about 1:20 a.m. As the car neared the Crows Landing Road offramp, Serrato moved from the left to the right lane and lost control. The Honda hit a sign and a lamp pole and stopped on the right shoulder of the off-ramp.

Santiago, who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown from the Honda. Serrato, who wore a seat belt, is suspected of leaving the scene, authorities said.

He was found by a deputy after the accident and arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, vehicular manslaughter, and hit and run.

Wrong-way driver

Meanwhile, alcohol also is believed to have played a role in a head-on collision on Highway 99 south of Pine Street in Ceres.

Juan Rubrica, 46, of Ceres entered Highway 99 driving north in the southbound lanes about 11 p.m. Sunday.

It is not known how long he drove toward oncoming traffic before his Honda Accord collided with a Ford Explorer carrying two women and three children.

The driver of the Ford, 32-year-old Sandra Cardenas of Fresno, was driving about 65 mph when she spotted the wrong-way driver, according to the CHP. She swerved left to try to avoid the car, hitting the concrete median.

Despite Cardenas' evasive maneuver, the CHP said the median wasn't wide enough for her to avoid the oncoming car. The right front of the Ford smashed into the right front of the Honda.

Rubrica was pronounced dead at the scene.

Cardenas and her 9-year-old son suffered moderate injuries. Cardenas' other children, ages 10 and 12, suffered major injuries, along with passenger Sherri Arrington, 43, of Fresno.

Autopsies had not been performed on either man as of Tuesday morning.

Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at etracy@modbee.com or (209) 578-2366.