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Driver twice causes havoc on road
A sheriff's detective escaped injury Friday morning after losing control of his vehicle into a utility pole near Keyes during a pursuit of a hit-and-run suspect.

The sergeant, whose name was not released, plowed into the pole at Central and Taylor roads at 9:33 a.m. Although the car snapped the pole like a twig, the sergeant was not hurt due to airbag deployment and seat belt usage, said Sheriff's Department spokesman Rajinder Singh.

Minutes before, the sergeant witnessed the driver of a pickup, 29-year-old Modesto resident Emiliano Maldonado Jr., strike a bicyclist in the northbound lanes of Crows Landing Road at Imperial Avenue in South Modesto. Singh said the detective could see that the driver was dragging the 51-year-old Modesto victim and the bicycle underneath the car but that the man became free when the driver flipped a U-turn to flee the scene.

"The detective thought this was going to end up being a homicide," said Singh. Modesto Police Department spokesman Craig Gundlach said the victim sustained severe injuries that did not appear to be life threatening.

The detective saw that the man was moving and being attended to and chased the suspect's gray pickup in the unmarked unit. Singh said the suspect fled westbound on Imperial and onto southbound Ustick Road to Keyes Road, then south down Central Avenue. When he tried to make a sharp turn onto eastbound Taylor Road he lost control and went into a muddy field.

One of the two sheriff's vehicles veered to the left into an open field while the second car went into the pole to avoid hitting other vehicles, said Singh.

"He had nowhere else to go," said Singh.

The sergeant was checked out at Doctors Medical Center in keeping with department policy but was back on duty.

His car was totaled.

Deputies captured Maldonado, who is expected to be charged with felony hit and run and failure to yield to pursuing officers. Officers located a small amount of marijuana in the pickup. Maldonado was tested for drug and alcohol influence.

Witnesses to the hit and run, or anyone else with information about this incident, is asked to call Modesto Police Traffic Officer Doug Girepp at (209) 572-9703.