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CHP Releases Information On Major Injury Weekend Crash

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Sonora, CA– On July 16th at close to 8:00 am a Sonora Area CHP Officer was informed by Merced Communication Dispatch Center that a recently stolen vehicle was seen driving westbound on Highway 108 near the Long Barn Area. The officer was able to locate the stolen grey Ford F350 pickup truck. The officer positioned his patrol vehicle directly behind the Ford and before he could activate his emergency lights, the driver, 49-year-old Joshua Kohl of La Mesa, CA, accelerated and passed a vehicle over the double yellow lines. As the suspect was making the unsafe passing maneuver, 86-year-old Leroy Keller of Sonora was driving his 2004 Chevrolet Silverado eastbound on Highway 108, east of Cofill Road along with his passenger 80-year-old Earlene Keller of Sonora.

The two vehicles crashed head-on. After the impact, the right side of the Ford crashed into a 2016 Chevrolet Sonic that was being driven by 59-year-old Diana Barreno of Twain Harte. After the impact with the Sonic, the Ford crashed into an embankment and then into a 2018 Subaru Outback that was being driven by 59-year-old Charles Hester of San Mateo, CA. Both Mr. and Ms. Keller sustained major injuries as a result of the crash and were flown to Doctors Medical Center and Memorial Medical Center.

The occupants of the other involved vehicles did not sustain any injuries. Mr. Kohl was placed under arrest and treated for his minor injuries sustained in the crash. After being treated, he was transported to the Tuolumne County Jail and booked for possession of a stolen vehicle, assault with a deadly weapon and passing over a divided highway, and causing injuries. Drugs and alcohol are not suspected to be a factor in this incident.

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