A Turlock mother is facing felony charges after leading Merced County Sheriff’s deputies on a high-speed pursuit that wove in and out of traffic on Highway 99, all with her infant in the vehicle.
Aleigha Freitas, 24, of Turlock was arrested on suspicion of felony evasion and felony child endangerment, according to the Merced County Sheriff’s Department.
The incident began around 11 a.m. Tuesday when Merced Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Sziraki and Lt. Aaron Rosenberg were passed by a silver sedan that was driving fast and recklessly on southbound Highway 99.
The captain and the lieutenant observed the vehicle swerving in and out of traffic and advised a deputy who was further ahead in the Livingston area to be on the lookout for the vehicle.
It wasn’t long before Deputy Raul Garcia spotted the vehicle and watched it pass him at a high rate of speed. Garcia attempted to perform a vehicle stop on the silver sedan, but the driver, later identified as Freitas, refused to stop.
Freitas began passing vehicles from the shoulder of the highway and swerving in and out of traffic at speeds estimated to exceed 100 miles per hour, according to the sheriff’s department.
Another deputy joined in the effort to stop the sedan as the chase continued along Highway 99. Near Franklin Road Freitas lost control of the car and crashed on top of the railroad tracks.
The deputies were quickly on hand to make sure no one was injured and to take the driver into custody. That is when they learned there was a six-month-old baby strapped in a child seat in the rear passenger area of the vehicle.
Freitas and the baby appeared to be fine and did not sustain any injuries.
After speaking with Freitas, it was suspected she was under the influence of drugs. Both Freitas and the baby were transported to a local hospital to get checked out. After being cleared medically, Freitas was placed under arrest and the Merced County Child Protective Services took custody of the baby.