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Fires, Accidents, Arrests Make For Hectic Week
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Escalon emergency services personnel and police logged a busy week, with a rash of fires, accidents and some arrests.

Action for Escalon firefighters started with the fatal head-on crash that resulted in the death of a Riverbank teen on Monday, July 29 (See story, Page A3) and while crews were on that scene, a large river bottom fire also required response.

Escalon Consolidated Fire Protection District Chief Rick Mello said the back-to-back major incident calls saw his department call initially for mutual aid from Farmington and Ripon, with Farmington crews coming in to set up the landing zone for an air ambulance. The driver of the car in the fatal crash was originally going to be taken to the hospital via helicopter, said Mello, but was taken by ground ambulance instead.

“He was taken by ground due to his combativeness,” said Mello, noting that the driver had a partially amputated left arm as a result of the crash. He was taken to Doctors Medical Center.

The river bottom fire in the 22000 block of McBride was near the Barton Ranch, added Mello, and came in at 4:46 p.m., about 20 minutes after the fatal crash on Mariposa.

“We had a single engine there, we also had mutual aid from Stanislaus County and they ran the incident for the first two hours, we had crews from Stanislaus Consolidated, Oakdale, Ceres, Ripon and Modesto Regional,” Mello said.

Access was difficult due to the location, with the fire charring about two acres of brush and vegetation.

On Tuesday, July 30, Escalon police and fire crews responded to a reported vehicle vs. train crash off McHenry, at a private crossing just north of Clough. The slow-moving freight train was backing up, said Mello, as the car was exiting a business and was struck on the passenger’s side.

Police said the 43-year-old Manteca man driving had complaint of pain and his 31-year-old female passenger, also from Manteca, had a laceration to her right foot. There are no crossing arms at the location and police said the driver apparently misjudged the distance of the train or just didn’t realize it was moving when he attempted to drive over the crossing and was struck.

Friday evening, firefighters were called to a potential river rescue, with a report of two people putting in a raft at McHenry Rec and not returning at the anticipated time. The two were located later on, after climbing out of the river downstream from where they began, unharmed.

Escalon Police, meanwhile, made a felony arrest on July 29, when a man spinning donuts in his car lost control in an empty lot, rolling the vehicle near Highway 120 and Irwin.

The crash occurred shortly before 8 p.m. and the driver, identified as John Delponte, 51, of Escalon was initially booked at San Joaquin County Jail on $1 million bail for felony driving under the influence. He had two 20-year-old female passengers in the vehicle, both sustained minor injuries. One had abrasions from the seat belt and one had cuts to her elbow. Delponte was later released from jail on his own recognizance.

Other vehicle accidents scattered throughout the week, none with major injuries, included crashes at Escalon and Lillian on Sunday, Aug. 4; Highway 120 and Brennan on Saturday, Aug. 3; a non-injury crash with a vehicle into an orchard at Highway 120 and Brennan on Friday, Aug. 2 and a non-injury crash at Highway 120 and California on Wednesday, July 31.

Police also made a warrant arrest, picking up a subject from the Stanislaus County Jail on Thursday, Aug. 1.

Police arrested James Reese, 37, of Riverbank on a felony $50,000 warrant for assault, tampering with a vehicle and attempted vehicle theft in connection with an incident on Autumnwood in May. He was on parole at the time and was booked at San Joaquin County Jail.