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Deputies chase drunk suspect through Hilmar
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A suspected drunken driver led Merced County Sheriff deputies on a high speed chase through Hilmar early Tuesday and ended up being apprehended as he and his three passengers tried to hide on a rural piece of property.

The driver was identified by the sheriff’s department as Yvan Valencia, 20. Upon his arrest, deputies could smell a strong odor of alcohol coming from his breath, said sheriff spokesman Deputy Tom MacKenzie.

Valencia came to the attention of law enforcement around 2 a.m. Tuesday when he was seen weaving in and out of his lane on American Avenue near Prairie Flower Road, in a 1992 Acura. The deputy said Valenica drove off the roadway twice.

The deputy attempted to stop the vehicle, but Valencia kept driving, first at 30 mph, then reaching 100 mph, MacKenzie said.

A second deputy joined in the chase and the pair trailed after the Acura as Valencia sped through stop signs and took side and dirt roads in an effort to lose his pursuers.

The Acura came to a stop after driving through the side yard at a residence in the 6000 block of Golf Link Road. The vehicle stopped at the rear of the property and four suspects took off running from the vehicle, MacKenzie said.

All four suspects were found at the rear of the property hiding. Two of the suspects were found when they jumped into the canal in an attempt to get away, MacKenzie said.

Valencia was booked on charges of felony evading and resisting arrest and may face charges of driving under the influence and remains jailed on a $52,000 bail. The passengers — Miguel Lopez, 19; Evaristo Romero, 22; and a 15-year-old male — were all charged with resisting arrest.

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