A toddler was unharmed but a man suffered major injuries and had to be airlifted when he was rammed by a car during a road-rage incident south of Sonora on Thursday morning.
The Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office got several calls around 9 a.m. Thursday regarding the crash at the intersection of Highway 108 and South Washington Street involving a black Mercedes sedan and a silver Honda Civic.
Deputies, CHP officers and medical personnel arrived to find the male driver of the Mercedes with “significant injuries.” He was airlifted to a Modesto hospital for trauma care. A 2-year-old boy in the back seat was uninjured, the Sheriff’s Office reported.
From statements by witnesses and those involved, investigators determined the incident began because the Mercedes driver angered the Honda driver, 48-year-old Scott Sanchez of Copperopolis, by tailgating, said Sgt. Andrea Benson, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office.
“Once Sanchez pulled to the side and he (the Mercedes driver) passed, there may have been some slamming of brakes,” Benson said.
The driver of the Mercedes pulled over, got out of his car and threw up his arms in the air, she said. Sanchez also had pulled over ahead of him, Benson said, and intentionally backed his car into the victim, who still was standing outside the Mercedes, and ramming into the driver’s side of the car. Sanchez, who remained at the scene for law enforcement to arrive, told authorities he did not know there was a child in the car.
The boy was picked up by his mother, Benson said. “We haven’t heard anything further, so as far as we know, he’s still OK.” The Mercedes driver, who is not the boy’s father but has some relationship with the mother, remains hospitalized, Benson said.
Sheriff's detectives drove to the Modesto hospital and were able to get a full statement from the victim.
Sanchez was arrested and booked into the Tuolumne County Jail on one count of assault with a deadly weapon. He told authorities he was in fear for his safety, Benson said, but admitted that he saw no weapon in the Mercedes driver’s hands when the man got out of his car.
“When somebody is doing that (tailgating, tapping brakes or other aggressive driving), we always recommend you pull over and call law enforcement. That’s the safest thing in a situation like that,” Benson said.
Anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to call the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office at 209-533-5815.
Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327