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Suspect Caught In Columbia Crash

Columbia, CA — A crash on Sawmill Flat Road that had CHP officers searching for a supposed hit and run driver turned out to be false.

As reported earlier, a solo vehicle wreck happened at 7:11 a.m. Wednesday on Sawmill Flat Road, south of Big Hill Road near Columbia College. The CHP says the driver of a 1984 Jeep tried to avoid a deer and went off the roadway. He then over-corrected into oncoming traffic, went up an embankment and flipped over. Initially, the CHP reported officers were searching for the driver, who reportedly fled the scene. CHP spokesperson Nick Norton says that was a lie told by the actual driver, 25-year-old Chris Calestine, of Sonora, to officers at the scene. “Calestine, for unknown reasons, was trying to say that somebody else was driving and they ran away, when in fact, he was the actual driver.”

Norton says Calestine could face charges of hampering an investigation and lying to police officers.  The CHP reports there were two passengers in the jeep. 25-year-old Justin Porter, of Sonora, suffered major head trauma and was flown to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto. Neither Calestine or the other passenger, 21-year-old Kevin Raso, of Sonora, were injured in the crash.

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