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Local dies as suspect runs in 99 traffic
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A Ceres woman has died from her injuries after being thrown from her motorcycle Saturday night when other vehicles braked to a stop as a Manteca man attempted to outrun police officers across four lanes of Highway 99 traffic just south of Yosemite Avenue.

Succumbing to her injuries were Winona Moore, 58, who was riding with husband Darrell Moore. The couple was traveling at approximately 70 mph on cruise control when Mr. Moore had to lay down the bike to avoid a collision with cars stopped on the freeway caused by the fleeing criminal.

One rider in the group said in a blog, "This guy tried to rob my motorcycle first. I was scared of getting rear ended when I had to stop as this guy jumped in front of me on the freeway."

Wanted in burglary investigations, Brett Andrew Phares, 28 - now charged with murder - led officers on a three-county chase after stopping the southbound freeway traffic. Phares had run from officers who were attempting to arrest him near the Carl's Jr. restaurant in the Spreckels Park commercial center just west of Highway 99.

Manteca Police officers said Phares jumped the freeway fence and sprinted across both southbound and northbound lanes to evade capture. When he reached the commercial area near Wendy's restaurant on Yosemite Avenue, he saw two police units and retraced his steps running back across the freeway. As he crossed the southbound lanes, motorists including a group of motorcycle riders with Winona Moore, slowed down or stopped.

Mr. Moore sustained moderate injuries and road rashes while Mrs. Moore suffered a broken neck. One motorist who stopped to render aid to the Moores - and pray with Darrell Moore - had her car stolen by Phares who then headed southbound on Highway 99. Two Manteca officers intercepted the car at Austin Road and initiated a pursuit - soon to be joined by Ripon Police units.

The chase hit speeds of 90 to 95 miles an hour, Manteca police said. In Modesto the chase was taken over by California Highway Patrol units that were eventually joined by Stanislaus County and Merced County deputies and the CHP helicopter. At one point the CHP reportedly called off the chase and deputies were ordered to drop back because of the man's erratic driving.

Commandeers another car

Freelance photojournalist Carlos Rodriguez had become involved in the chase while out shopping with his wife and infant son. The suspect commandered the Rodriguez vehicle and headed northbound. Just south of Turlock Phares was driving on the freeway the wrong way against southbound traffic. Phares later let out the family members.

The Manteca suspect later ran out of gas, still in the journalist's car, near the Kansas Avenue exit in Modesto where Stanislaus deputies and CHP officers chased him down on foot with the help of the CHP helicopter overhead.

Several other bloggers who claimed to be involved at the scene went on line as well with their accounts.

One woman said she and her husband were on their Tri-Glide motorcycle immediately behind the bike that crashed. She said a truck had his warning flashers activated attempting to alert traffic to the problem ahead adding that the motorcycle ahead of them had braked up trying to avoid hitting anyone.

"You don't expect to see anyone running across the freeway."

Another blogger said he had listened to the entire pursuit on his scanner and heard that the suspect had attempted to ram several CHP units during the chase down and back up Highway 99. He also noted that before the highway patrol had called off the chase because of the suspect's erratic driving, they had planned to put out a spike strip to stop the vehicle.

After learning he was reportedly planning "suicide by cop" the spike strip plan was declined.

Phares is charged with murder, evading officers with wanton disregard for public safety, vehicle theft and resisting arrest. He had another no-bail warrant that had been issued for his arrest, according to the Sheriff's website.

Services for Winona Moore are set at 11 a.m. Friday at Richland Faith Assembly of God Church in Ceres.

"They were just the neatest couple," commented Ken Lane, who is a member of the Ceres Lions Club with Darrell Moore.

(Jeff Benziger contributed to this article).