Shortly after area police were issued a ‘be on the lookout’ for a wrong-way driver on Highway 108 between Oakdale and Riverbank on Saturday, July 23, around 9 p.m., officers from the California Highway Patrol ended up responding to a head-on collision and arrested an Oakdale man on suspicion of drunken driving after his pickup collided with another vehicle.
The CHP stated Anselmo Reyes-Meraz, 49, was taken into custody after he fled his 2004 Ford F-150 pickup at the crash site that caused injuries to the driver of another vehicle and three juvenile passengers.
According to the CHP, Reyes-Meraz of Oakdale, was driving a 2004 Ford F-150 at approximately 60 mph eastbound in the westbound lane of Highway 108 just west of Walker Road. At the same time, Jose Magallon-Ceja, 36, of Modesto was driving a 2005 Chevrolet Silverado, in the westbound lane of the highway approaching the wrong way Ford.
Other vehicles heading westbound in front of Magallon-Ceja had swerved off the roadway to avoid colliding with the wrong-way pickup. Magallon-Ceja tried to swerve to the left, but the Ford pickup hit his truck’s right side door.
After the collision, Reyes-Meraz ran from the scene towards Oakdale, witnesses told authorities.
Magallon-Ceja had minor injuries and was treated at Memorial Medical Center. Three children travelling with Magallon-Ceja had major injuries. Two, a 13-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy, were taken via ambulance to Memorial Medical Center and one 12-year-old boy was taken by air ambulance to UC Davis due to his injuries.
Witnesses on the scene gave officers a suspect description. Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputies assisted in the search, and Reyes-Meraz was later found about 250 yards east of the crash site hiding in a dirt field.
Reyes-Meraz was brought back to the crash site, where two witnesses identified him as the driver of the Ford pickup.
Reyes-Meraz was treated for minor injuries and after being medically cleared, was booked into Stanislaus County Jail on felony counts of being involved in an injury collision while driving under the influence of alcohol and fleeing the scene of an injury collision.
The CHP is still investigating the collision.