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3 hurt in stolen car pursuit
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Two women sustained serious injuries late Saturday evening when an auto theft suspect, fleeing a Ceres police officer, crashed into their car as he ran a red light.

The suspect, Daniel Cunningham, 19, of Denair, also sustained major fractures, including broken arms, shoulder and legs in the intersection of Mitchell Road and Whitmore Avenue.

"It was a total disregard and reckless," commented Deputy Chief of Police Mike Borges of the suspect.

Cunningham, who's accused of stealing a Toyota Camry just minutes before in the 1800 block of Gail Court, had to be cut free from the wreckage so paramedics could take him to Doctors Medical Center.

The two female victims also had to be cut from their crushed car. The impact spun the Honda around with it coming to rest east of the intersection. Both women suffered bone fractures; Borges said one woman had a broken pelvis and the other fractures to her feet and legs. The names of the injured women were not available as of press deadline.

Borges said once Cunningham is released from the hospital he will be formally charged with auto theft, felony evading of a peace office and possibly felony DUI.

The impact of the crash caused the Camry to flip end over end and came to rest on its side in front of Carl's Jr. Borges said Cunningham struck a pickup and then glanced off to strike the southbound Honda containing the women. The pickup sustained moderate damage and had to be towed from the scene.

The incident unfolded at 10:17 p.m. when Officer Allen McKay spotted Cunningham driving at a high rate of speed - judged to be 60 mph - on southbound Central Avenue approaching Caswell Avenue. McKay watched Cunningham cut through the lot at the northeast corner of Caswell and Central and speed onto westbound Caswell. McKay chased after and tried to pull over Cunningham. The suspect slowed down to about 5 mph and acted like he was going to yield at Sixth Street but sped off again. The one-minute pursuit began at that point with McKay following the suspect who was speeding down eastbound Whitmore Avenue at estimated speeds of 80-90 mph. Borges said Cunningham blew through the red light at Whitmore Avenue and Ninth Street. McKay slowed down, he said, because of safety concerns about the intersection and fell behind the suspect by a quarter-mile. McKay was about to key up on his microphone to call off the pursuit because of Cunningham's recklessness when he saw the crash from the area of El Dorado Drive, said Borges.

Recently Ceres police pursuit policy drew criticism after an officer's unit was run off the road on a Sept. 11 code 3 roll and crashing into a Moffet Road house. Borges was quick to preempt expected criticism about Saturday's crash by saying there was "no evidence of any policy violation."

"We feel extremely bad that these two young women were injured by this individual's actions," said Borges.