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Alcohol-related collisions claim two lives; Anti DUI enforcement nets 29 arrests

POSTED July 5, 2011 8:35 p.m.

Anti-drunken driving efforts in Stanislaus County resulted in the arrests of 29 individuals for driving under the influence, but the holiday weekend also saw two fatalities and both are suspected to be alcohol-related.

The Stanislaus County Avoid the 12 campaign, which is overseen by the Turlock Police Department, was out in force over the long holiday weekend looking for suspected drunken drivers.

The two fatalities both occurred Sunday on Highway 99 in two separate collisions.

The deceased were identified by the Stanislaus County Coroner’s Office as Federico Santiago, 21, of Modesto and Juan Rubrica, 46, of Ceres.

The first collision was reported at 1:20 a.m. Sunday at the southbound Highway 99 off-ramp to Crows Landing Road.

According to the California Highway Patrol, Santiago was a passenger in a 1996 Honda Prelude driven by Jose Maria Serrato, 27, of Stockton.

Serrato was driving southbound on 99, when he made a sudden veer towards the off-ramp and lost control of the vehicle. The car went off the road and overturned. It collided with a highway sign and an overhead lamp pole before coming to a rest on its right side.

Santiago, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the vehicle and died en-route to the hospital, according to the CHP.

Serrato fled the scene on foot, but was caught shortly after the wreck by the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department.

Serrato had minor injuries and was treated at Doctors Medical Center. He was evaluated for driving under the influence and was arrested for felony driving under the influence, vehicular manslaughter, and hit and run. He was booked into Stanislaus County Jail.

The second collision happened about 22 hours later at 11:17 p.m. Sunday when Rubrica drove his 1990 Honda Accord the wrong way on Highway 99, striking a family returning to Fresno.

The crash was located in the northbound lanes of the freeway, south of Pine Street in Ceres.

Rubrica entered the northbound lane heading south at approximately 40 mph, according to the CHP.

Traveling in the northbound lane was a family of five, including three children, in a 1999 Ford Explorer.

The driver of the Ford, 32-year-old Sandra Cardenas, spotted the vehicle coming towards her and turned the vehicle to the left, avoiding a head-on collision.

The Ford struck the concrete center median wall and then the Honda crashed into the Ford. The force of the impact toppled the Ford onto its side and caused extensive damage to the Honda.

Rubrica was pronounced dead at the scene. The CHP suspect alcohol may have been a factor in Rubrica’s driving the wrong way, however, autopsy results are pending.

Cardenas and a 9-year-old boy suffered moderate injuries and were taken to Doctors Medical Center. A 10-year-old girl, a 12-year-old boy and 43-year-old Sherri Arrington, of Fresno, all sustained major injuries. Arrington and the 10-year-old were taken to Doctors Medical Center and the 12-year-old was transported to UC Davis Medical Center.

The fatalities occurred in spite of a countywide effort to curb intoxicated drivers.

The participating law enforcement agencies in the Avoid the 12 utilized routine traffic enforcement and special DUI deployments over the holiday weekend to apprehend suspected drunken drivers.

Between 12:01 a.m. Friday and midnight Monday, the agencies arrested 29 people suspected of driving under the influence.

The number of arrests is expected to rise because not all agencies have reported in their data.

In 2010, the agencies recorded 49 arrests during a four-day time period, said Turlock Police Sgt. Nino Amirfar. There were no fatalities last year.

Law enforcement officials will be conducting more Avoid Anti-DUI efforts throughout the county and region in partnership with the Nationwide 18 day campaign in August ending Labor Day weekend.


To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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