Escalon Police are still investigating what led up to a local man reportedly fleeing a local business plaza at a high rate of speed and attempting to pass a vehicle along Escalon-Bellota Road on Thursday evening, Feb. 12. The man struck the divider near Escalon Avenue and Libby, which sent his older model Toyota airborne and he was ejected from the car, later succumbing to his injures at a Modesto hospital.
The driver killed was identified by police as Paul Foreman Jr., 25, of Escalon, with an address along Escalon-Bellota.
“He may have been involved in a minor collision in the plaza shopping center,” Police Chief Mike Borges said, noting that witnesses placed him leaving the parking lot of the plaza along Escalon Avenue at “a high rate of speed.”
Witnesses also reported someone in the parking lot screaming about their car and believe Foreman may have struck that vehicle but then fled the scene. He headed northbound on Escalon Avenue and, according to police, attempted a passing maneuver but instead struck the center divider.
The crash was reported about 6:30 p.m. Thursday and Borges said officers were able to respond quickly when the report came in.
“We had a unit that was directing traffic because of a stalled big rig on Highway 120 at Escalon and Yosemite,” explained the chief of having someone in the vicinity already. “The officer heard the screeching tires, then someone from the parking lot was screaming about a car.”
The officer directing the traffic was able to get in his vehicle and respond, heading north on Escalon Avenue but by that time, the driver had already struck the divider.
“Bystanders, including an off duty nurse, and an off duty corrections officer, got there, and were trying to assist, rendering first aid,” Borges said of those responding attempting to help the driver. “He was transported by ambulance, unfortunately he was pronounced dead later in the evening, around 9 p.m.”
The car went airborne when it struck the divider but came to rest on its wheels, facing south in the northbound lane. The vehicle it was attempting to pass had damage due to flying debris but no other vehicles were involved. Borges said since that route is usually heavily traveled, it could have been much worse and involved multiple vehicles.
The chief added that officers are still actively investigating the crash and will await toxicology reports before concluding the investigation.