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Fatality, Arrests Mar Year's End
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Identification has been made of the victim in a Christmas Eve fatal accident and Escalon Police are reporting several arrests over the long New Year's holiday weekend.

The late night Dec. 24 accident at Highway 120 and Steinegul Road resulted in the death of Martin Constantino, 20, of Escalon when the 2006 Chrysler he was driving southbound on Steinegul failed to stop at the intersection with Highway 120 and crossed the highway directly into the path of a westbound 2012 Peterbilt big rig.

According to the California Highway Patrol report, the driver of the big rig, identified as a 31-year-old man from Stockton, was unable to avoid the Chrysler.

The crash occurred about 11:15 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

A witness said the Chrysler failed to stop at the stop sign on Steinegul and was also driving erratically along Steinegul prior to the crash.

"The collision caused vehicle one (Chrysler) to separate entirely in half sending both portions of the vehicle airborne and further south and southwest of the original point of impact into an adjacent orchard," noted the CHP report. "The driver was ejected from the vehicle and there was no indication that he was wearing his seat belt. However, due to the impact it is unlikely that the driver would have survived the collision even if he had been."

Constantino, the victim, was pronounced dead at the scene but the body had to be removed to the San Joaquin County Coroner's Office for identification.

CHP officials said the investigation is continuing and drugs or alcohol may have been a factor in the collision, based upon witness observations of the victim's erratic driving prior to the crash. Toxicology results are pending. The big rig driver had minor injuries and was not arrested. He was using his safety equipment and was driving a double tanker truck, though the tanks were empty.

Meanwhile, Escalon Police report several holiday weekend arrests for the New Year's holiday, including some on felony counts.

On New Year's Eve, Saturday, Dec. 31 at 11:02 p.m., officers stopped a driver for weaving in the roadway near McHenry and Weiss. An investigation determined that the driver was not intoxicated, but he was arrested on suspicion of felony possession of a narcotic-controlled substance for having heroin in his possession. He also had less than an ounce of marijuana, and was cited for possession of paraphernalia and driving without a license. The 33-year-old, identified as Matthew Solus of Escalon, was processed at the local station and released pending a further court appearance.

Just before midnight, an Escalon man was taken into custody on a felony battery charge. Police responded to the 1700 block of Sanchez to a report of a neighbor dispute and discovered a 19-year-old victim with a large gash to his forehead. The subsequent investigation resulted in the arrest of David Martin, 44, of Escalon on suspicion of felony battery. He was booked at San Joaquin County Jail.

An early morning arrest on Sunday, Jan. 1 occurred in the area of Blixt and First, when police observed a vehicle operating with no headlights or taillights. The driver, a 21-year-old Escalon man, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. He was processed at the local station and released to a family member pending further court action.

On Monday, Jan. 2 just before 2 p.m., police made a warrant arrest at the Santa Clara County Jail, taking Joshua Watkins, 26, of Manteca into custody on a felony no bail warrant from Escalon for resisting arrest causing injury, battery on a police officer and misdemeanor resisting. The case stemmed from an incident in September, 2010 when an Escalon officer was injured during a scuffle with the suspect. Watkins was booked at San Joaquin County Jail.

Police also arrested a 13-year-old boy from Escalon at 6:42 p.m. on Jan. 2, in connection with the theft of a backpack from the 1300 block of Escalon Avenue. He was cited to Probation on suspicion of burglary and possession of stolen property.

Earlier in the week, officers arrested David Miligi, 26, of Escalon on a felony stolen vehicle and hit and run warrant, as well as possession of more than an ounce of marijuana in a 10:27 a.m. contact with police on Thursday, Dec. 29. He was booked at county jail.