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Stolen car chase ends on freeway
Car theft suspect Robert Olmos is loaded up on a stretcher after he baled from a stolen car on Highway 99. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Traffic in both directions of Highway 99 through Ceres was snarled during Wednesday evening rush hour when a police chase of a stolen car ended up going the wrong way and two occupants baled on foot into the center median oleanders. Amazingly, no vehicles were struck and nobody was hurt.

One of the two men was captured.

Ceres Police Sgt. Pat Sullivan said that officers from the Stanislaus County Auto Theft Task Force (StanCATT) were watching a stolen Honda Accord in the area of Dollar Tree on Hatch Road. At 4:58 p.m. StanCATT radioed to ask Ceres Police to assist in stopping the driver, which went toward Richland Avenue. The dark-colored Honda was spotted near Richland and the chase was on, eastbound on Hatch Road in the westbound lane. The Honda approached the freeway overpass when the driver tried to evade police by steering southbound onto the northbound Hatch Road off-ramp. The car managed to dodge oncoming traffic to avoid a collision. Two male occupants opened the doors, as the car coasted, and ran to hide in the oleanders. The Honda continued to drift across the lanes of northbound Highway 99 as it was stopped by a concrete center divider where it was disabled.

Amid thick traffic - slowed due to the police activity - officers combed the area and found one of the suspects, Robert Olmos, 45. Sullivan said Olmos was having a seizure or faking one so an ambulance arrived to take him to Doctors Medical Center.

Ceres Police Department spokesman Sgt. Jose Berber said Olmos did not have a license to drive.

A Sheriff's Department canine and Ceres Police canine were brought in to search for the second suspect but he eluded capture.

The search for the second suspect concluded at 5:28 p.m. and the freeway was cleared at 5:55 p.m.