MERCED COUNTY, California (KSEE/KGPE) – A man is in custody after authorities say he went on a New Year’s morning rampage with his vehicle ramming eight different vehicles on the highway that contained a total of 18 people, the California Highway Patrol said.
The essential information
Around 3:30 a.m., the CHP Merced Communications Center began receiving calls of a vehicle driving erratically and colliding into other vehicles on Interstate 5 and Highway 152.
Officers from the Los Banos Area CHP responded to the area.
After hitting the eight vehicles, law enforcement was able to take the suspect into custody.
He was identified as Roderick Weston, 37, of Rocklin.
CHP said alcohol and/or drugs — as well as weather conditions — appear to have been a factor.
The 18 people in the eight vehicles involved range in age from 16 to 50, and were from various cities, including North Highlands, Chowchilla, Firebaugh, Lancaster, Bakersfield, Gray, Madera, Morgan Hill, and Carmel Valley.
Three of the 18 were treated for injuries. There were no fatalities.
The full chain of events
CHP said it started when Weston was driving a Toyota Tundra south on I-5, south of Highway 140 and, for unknown reasons, stopped blocking both lanes.
A woman was driving a Hyundai Sonata south on I-5 and stopped prior to colliding with Weston’s Toyota, CHP said. Weston climbed onto the hood of her Hyundai and eventually jumped off as she drove away.
She called 911 and the Los Banos Area CHP officers who responded were initially unable to locate Weston.
Based on calls received, Weston continued driving erratically on Highway 152.
Around 5:15 a.m., Weston continued to drive west on Highway 152, west of Lodi Avenue, where he rammed into the rear of a Mitsubishi Outlander, CHP said.
Weston continued westbound approaching a Saturn Ion.
CHP said Weston swerved to the right as he passed the woman causing his Toyota to sideswipe the Saturn. The driver of the Saturn pulled to the right shoulder and Weston stopped up the road.
Weston put his Toyota in reverse, accelerated quickly, and collided into the front of the Saturn, CHP said. Weston drove away from the scene.
Around 5:20 a.m., a man was driving an ambulance east on Highway 152 west of the San Joaquin River when he observed headlights turning from the center median toward him.
The man driving the ambulance changed lanes. Weston began to approach the rear of the ambulance and then rammed into the ambulance twice, CHP said.
The driver stopped and called 911.
Weston drove around the ambulance, made a u-turn, drove the wrong way, broadsided the ambulance, and then drove away from the scene, CHP said.
Around 5:22 a.m., a woman was driving a Honda CRV east on Highway 152 at Island Road.
She observed Weston’s Toyota driving west in the eastbound lane, swerving from side to side and headed directly toward her.
She swerved to the right shoulder as the Tundra swerved to the left, colliding with the entire side of the Honda.
Weston exited his Toyota and began approaching the Honda. She feared for her life and drove wrong-way in the eastbound lanes as Weston chased her in his Toyota, CHP said.
Weston ran into both sides of the Honda. The Honda ultimately overturned, south of the roadway, and Weston fled the scene, CHP said.
Around 5:23 a.m., a woman was driving a Hyundai Accent and was stopped on the north shoulder of westbound Highway 152, west of Highway 33.
Weston was driving west, turned off his headlights, drove into the center median and continued driving in circles until he ultimately collided into the rear of the Hyundai, CHP said.
The woman attempted to drive away. Weston blocked her with his vehicle, placed it in reverse, rapidly accelerated and caused the rear of his Toyota to collide with the front of the Hyundai, CHP said.
Again, CHP said Weston fled the scene.
Around 5:30 a.m., a man was driving a 2019 Honda Civic and was parked on the dirt shoulder of westbound Highway 152, west of Palm Avenue.
A passenger observed Weston’s Toyota doing donuts in the center median and began to travel the wrong way west in the eastbound lanes.
Weston rammed into the driver-side door of the Civic and then fled the scene, CHP said. The driver and his passenger were picked up by a man in a Ram pickup and began to follow Weston west on Highway 152.
Weston’s headlights were turned off, he placed his Toyota into reverse and quickly backed toward Rianda, CHP said.
The Toyota sideswiped the Ram and then collided into the Ram a second time. CHP said Weston fled the scene again.
Weston’s Toyota was ultimately disabled due to him driving off the roadway and into an irrigation canal near Palm Avenue and Azusa Road.
The Merced County Sheriff Office received a call of a male suspect matching the description of a Weston, matching the description given from the last collision scene, of a male who entered a residence on Azusa Road, CHP said.
A Sheriff’s deputy detained Weston until CHP could take custody. CHP said he had minor injuries.