Crime

DUI suspect flees from crash scene in Merced County. Then crashes into a power pole, CHP says

A visual glance at California fatal DUI statistics

Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities increased in California in 2016, according to an Office of Traffic Safety report.
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Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities increased in California in 2016, according to an Office of Traffic Safety report.

A Merced County man has been arrested after authorities said he was involved in two Merced County hit-and-run collisions on Sunday.

According to authorities, 48-year-old Thomas Climer of Dos Palos, was arrested on suspicion of felony driving under the influence causing injuries and felony hit-and-run causing injuries.

Officers responded to a call of a traffic collision in the area of Highway 33 and West Carmellia Avenue at about 9:52 a.m. Sunday, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Cary Martin.

The driver of a 2017 silver GMC Acadia traveling west on West Carmellia Avenue failed to stop at a stop sign and collided with a silver 2005 Chrysler minivan traveling south on Highway 33, Martin said. The driver of the Chrysler, Alma Guzman-Puerta of Paicines, was traveling at about 50 mph at the time of the collision, according to Martin.

Authorities said the driver of the GMC fled the scene and Guzman-Puerta was transported to Los Banos Memorial Hospital with minor to moderate injuries.

After fleeing the scene of the traffic collision, the driver of the GMC was involved in a second collision when the vehicle hit a power pole and barbed wire fence in the area of West Carmellia Avenue and Palm Avenue.

Authorities said the driver fled the scene on foot. During an investigation, authorities said Climer was determined to be the driver of the GMC involved in the two collisions.

Climer was later discovered by authorities hiding in bushes near the scene of the second traffic collision. Authorities suspected Climer of being under the influence of alcohol and he was booked into the Merced County Jail, according to Martin.

The Every 15 Minutes program highlights the dangers of drunken driving for students and staff at Delhi High School in Delhi, Calif., Tuesday, April 26, 2016.

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