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Duke arrested
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Larry Dale Duke, the driver who ran into a group of student pedestrians near Mae Hensley Junior High School on Feb. 9, killing one and seriously injuring two others, was arrest Friday morning by Ceres police.

The 45-year-old Ceres resident was picked up at 9:32 a.m. at his Darwin Avenue home, just down the street where the collision that killed Danielle Tarancon, 13, occurred. He was booked and charged with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. Duke was being held at the Stanislaus County Jail, with the bail amount set at $100,000.

"I think it is fair to say he was expecting it," said Ceres Police Chief Art deWerk. "He was cooperative."

The arrest came after over two weeks of investigating the tragic crash and the results of the toxicology report.

"We could have arrested him at any time but it is always better to make an arrest when the District Attorney's office has reached a conclusion and all the investigations have been exhausted," said deWerk.

Duke was driving a raised Chevy pickup southbound on Darwin Avenue at 8:58 a.m.on Feb. 9 when approaching Fowler Road at Smyrna Park. Witnesses say Duke failed to stop at the stop sign as it was turning left onto eastbound Fowler Road. The pickup rolled over Tarancon, and also struck Nancy Zavala, dragging her across the intersection, as well as running over Jessica Garcia, who reportedly sustained a broken hip.

A total of five students, all aged 13 and 14, were hit.

Duke's medical and driving history have been called into question. Following the accident, Duke was hospitalized for a rapid heartbeat. He told a Fox 40 reporter Rowena Shaddox that he has been experiencing falling asleep during the day for approximately two months. He said he didn't see a doctor about the condition because his insurance was cancelled after he lost his job as a truck driver.

Duke was the driver of a Peterbilt dump truck who ran into the rear of a Ford Expedition on Sept. 17, 2010 while traveling northbound Highway 99 near Faith Home Road overpass. In that incident traffic was slowing down but Duke failed to brake and ended up seriously injuring a seven-year-old Keyes boy, Adrian Orozco, and his parents, Juan and Myra Orozco, 32, and 31 respectively. In the Keyes crash, Duke said he couldn't see well because the sun was in his eyes and had to swerve out of his lane but crashed anyway.

Duke issued a statement to the TV station saying he didn't know what happened in the fatal crash, and expressed remorse to the families of the victims.