A 23-year-old Modesto woman faces charges of child endangerment and felony drunken driving after she careened off of northbound Highway 99 and crashed into a gas pump at the Shell station in downtown Ceres on Sunday evening.
The 6:43 p.m. crash was captured on store surveillance video and released to the public. It shows a 2010 Nissan driven by Isabel Zepeda at a high rate of speed coming off the freeway and straight into the pump where it was displaced and caught on fire. Zepeda and her children, Cristo Contreras, 4, and Azarih Contreras, 5, both of Modesto, received minor injuries in the crash. The video shows a pedestrian walking out of the store in the direction of the approaching car and running toward Fourth Street to avoid being hit by the Zepeda vehicle.
The California Highway Patrol said that Zepeda struck a metal construction sign in her path straight into the Shell station. The car barrels into the northern pump nearest the frontage road and as it is stopped by a crash post, momentarily lifts off its tires and bounced back down. Flying metal debris from the pump struck a 2012 Kia at the other gas island, but occupant Sandra Garcia, 34, of Ceres, was not hurt. As the pump is burning just outside of Zepeda’s vehicle, the video showed adults at a red SUV being fueled take their children out through the window as the driver backs it off the lot.
Zepeda was rushed to Doctors Medical Center for treatment of abrasions to her leg and abdominal pain. The children, riding in the back seat, were taken to the hospital for head, chest and neck abrasions.
Initial reports were that the occupants were pinned into the wrecked car as two Ceres and Modesto engines arrived on scene. According to the Ceres Fire Department, the pump safety systems equipped on the pump did their job and prevented the station from exploding. The fire was extinguished before it was able to spread to nearby cars and buildings.