An 18-year-old Keyes resident was taken into custody Sunday following a collision on Highway 165 that claimed the life of a Merced man.
James Villarreal Sotelo was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of narcotics, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The deceased was identified by the Merced County Coroner’s Office as Joseph Silven, 26, of Merced.
The head-on collision occurred around 3:45 a.m. Sunday on Highway 165, north of Wolfsen Road.
Sotelo was driving a 2000 Chrysler Voyager Van northbound on Highway 165 and Silven was driving a 1997 Honda Accord southbound on the highway.
The CHP said Sotelo allowed the van to veer into the oncoming lane, striking Silven’s vehicle. The force of the impact sent Silven’s vehicle into a drainage ditch to the west of the highway. He was pronounced deceased at the scene.
The van veered back across the highway into the northbound lane and into a drainage ditch on the east side of the highway. Sotelo sustained minor injuries from the crash, but declined medical aid at the scene, according to the CHP.
Sotelo was found to be impaired by drugs and was arrested at the scene, according to the CHP.