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Police seek hit and run driver in fatal crash
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The death of a Ceres man weeks after he was hit by two different vehicles on Dec. 5 has prompted a police search for the first driver who fled the scene.

Ricky Berry, 57, of Ceres, died in the hospital over the weekend of Dec. 18-19 two weeks after he sustained his injures as a pedestrian. The collisions occurred in dark and rainy condition on Mitchell Road near Highway 99 at approximately 5:45 p.m. The first driver did not stop after striking Berry, which constitutes a felony hit-and-run. The badly injured Berry was lying in the road when he was later run over by a second car. Two weeks into hospitalization Berry suffered a stroke which was related to the accident, say family members.

The California Highway Patrol initially handled the accident investigation but later learned the point of impact was in the Ceres city limits and handed it over to Ceres Police.

Ceres Police Sgt. Danny Vierra said Berry ended up being a pedestrian after he lost control of his vehicle on the rain slickened Highway 99 as he was driving northbound near Mitchell Road. Berry's vehicle spun out and ended up on the east side of the freeway pointed in the wrong direction. Berry was seen outside of his car trying to wave down motorists for help. At that moment a CHP officer drove by en route to an unrelated Modesto area crash. After seeing Berry the officer broke off his response to the Modesto crash to double back on the frontage road to attend to Berry's crash. The officer found the car but Berry, who was dressed in black clothing with a white stripe, had taken off on foot toward Mitchell Road to get assistance.

Police believe that Berry was crossing Mitchell Road near its intersection with Rhode Road when he was struck by the first vehicle and knocked down into the road. The driver failed to stop and checking on the victim. A second driver, turning onto Mitchell Road from Rhode Road, did not see Berry in the road and drove at least two tires over him. The second driver stopped and summoned emergency aid. Berry sustained head injuries but was breathing.

Berry later provided a statement to the CHP but could give no details about the first driver and car. When Vierra was handed the case, he went to the hospital to get a statement from Berry but his condition had worsened and he was unable to speak. By Saturday, Dec. 18 he had passed away.

Vierra said the public may be able to help identify the hit-and-run driver.

"They could be charged with felony hit-and-run at bare minimum," said Vierra. "It could be punishable with a prison sentence. It could possibly be vehicular homicide but we'd have to prove intent."

Anyone who was in the area at the time of the collision or has any information that could assist in the investigation is asked to contact Officer Trinidad Viramontes at 538-5620.