The charges were mounting up for a teenager who stole a vehicle on a dare and led law enforcement on a multi county pursuit.No one was injured during the pursuit, despite the teen ramming a Merced County Sheriff deputy’s patrol car twice.The incident began around 6 p.m. Sunday when the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department was taking a report of a stolen 2010 Chevrolet Traverse SUV from the Excell Center at 2513 Youngstown Rd. in Turlock. The suspect was a 15-year-old boy staying at the group home and had last been seen heading towards Hilmar.The report of the stolen SUV went out across police scanners and was heard by Merced County Sheriff Deputy Preston Sanchez, who spotted the vehicle travelling at a high rate of speed on Lander Avenue.Sanchez attempted to pull the vehicle over, but the 15-year-old driver was bent on fleeing. With the deputy chasing after him the teen sped through Hilmar streets at speeds over 100 mph, said Merced County Sheriff spokesman Deputy Tom MacKenzie.Several attempts to bring the chase to an end were made by deploying spike strips, but the driver was able to avoid the devices each time, MacKenzie said.At one point in the pursuit the teen eluded one of the spike strips by plowing through a sweet potato field near Geer Road and Griffith Avenue. He then veered off into an almond orchard, where he struck a small sapling, MacKenzie said.In his attempt to disentangle the SUV and the young tree, and continue his escape, the teen aimed the SUV at Sanchez’s patrol car. He struck the patrol’s car push bumpers just as Sanchez was exiting the car to try and take the teen into custody, MacKenzie said.Sanchez escaped the collision unharmed and re-initiated the pursuit, chasing the driver down a dirt road back onto Lander Avenue.Once on Lander the teen changed direction and started heading towards Turlock. The teen was reaching speeds of 95 to 100 mph and was driving so erratically that he forced other vehicles off the road.
The teen was headed back to the Excell Center. As the vehicle approached the property, the suspect saw the Stanislaus County Sheriff deputy in front of him, several Merced County deputies and California Highway Patrol officers behind him and he slammed on his brakes swerving across the road and again struck Sanchez’s unit while coming to a stop.
The teen was taken into custody and later told the deputies that he took the vehicle because he was dared to do so by some of the boys at the group home. He said he was pressured into taking the vehicle because they kept saying he was too afraid to steal it after someone had found the keys. The vehicle was returned to the owner, and the 15-year old was booked into Merced Juvenile Hall for assault with a deadly weapon, felony evading a police officer, hit and run, resisting arrest and driving without a license. He remains in custody without bail.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.