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Lone Tree Crash Claims Two Lives
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Two people were killed and two others arrested in a fatal accident late Saturday night, Dec. 27, on Lone Tree Road.

The crash occurred just before midnight at the intersection of Carrolton and Lone Tree roads, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Norma Martinez, 35, of Garden Grove and Porfiria Zepeda-Meza, 48, of Escalon were killed in the three-vehicle collision. Martinez was the driver of a 2003 Ford Escape that was westbound on Lone Tree Road, while Zepeda-Meza was the front seat passenger. Both were wearing their seatbelts but were killed when their car was struck by a 2000 Jaguar, traveling northbound on Carrolton Road.

The driver of that car, Jose A. Torres-Pena, 26, of Escalon is facing multiple charges in connection with the wreck.

"He was northbound on Carrolton approaching the intersection with Lone Tree," explained Stockton CHP Public Information Officer Adrian Quintero.

Due to his level of intoxication, Quintero said Torres-Pena failed to stop at the stop sign.

"His vehicle impacted the left front side (of the Ford Escape)," Quintero added.

The Escape rolled and struck a 1999 Dodge Durango, southbound on Carrolton, which was approaching the stop sign. That truck was driven by Noe Zepeda, 27, of Escalon.

Both Torres-Pena and Zepeda fled the scene, Quintero said.

Torres-Pena was later located at his home.

"He was hospitalized, we have an officer that will stay there until he is released, then he will be taken into custody and booked at the jail," Quintero said.

Suffering from a torn abdominal muscle, cuts, bruises and a possible broken right hip, Torres-Pena will be charged with felony driving under the influence, felony hit and run, vehicular manslaughter and unlicensed driving upon his release from the hospital.

Zepeda, who did not cause the accident, was also located following the crash and arrested.

"He willfully fled the scene of an injury accident," Quintero explained of why he was charged.

Zepeda was arrested for felony hit and run, misdemeanor driving under the influence and unlicensed driving. His DUI was a misdemeanor because he was not the cause of the crash, said Quintero. Zepeda was booked at San Joaquin County Jail.

"Both of the victims were pronounced dead at the scene by the San Joaquin County Coroner's Office personnel," Quintero added.

Escalon Fire Department and Escalon Community Ambulance personnel were on the scene of the Friday night fatal, the second crash they responded to that day.

Earlier, a 20-year-old from Escalon was arrested in connection with a hit and run when his vehicle went off the road and stuck a fence post.

That incident occurred about 3:45 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 27.

Quintero said Gerardo M. Venegas, 20, of Escalon was driving a 2002 Dodge Ram pick up eastbound on Lone Tree Road when he came up behind another driver, traveling eastbound at 55 mph, and struck the back of that vehicle. He then swerved around the 2001 Ford Ranger, driven by a 74-year-old man from Manteca, and continued eastbound on Lone Tree. The second driver called 9-1-1 to report the rear end collision and followed Venegas, keeping him in sight while providing authorities with information on his whereabouts. It was while the other driver was on the line with dispatchers that Venegas ran off the roadway.

"He lost control, went off the road and struck a wood fence post on Mahon Road at Escalon-Bellota," explained Quintero.

Emergency personnel were dispatched to the scene and Venegas was treated for minor injuries. The driver of the Ford Ranger also complained of pain and was taken to Memorial Hospital.

"Both crashes were a result of his intoxication," Quintero said of Venegas running into the truck and the fence post.

He was arrested on counts of felony hit and run and felony DUI in connection with striking the vehicle and misdemeanor DUI in connection with crashing into the fence post. He was booked at county jail.

Authorities are currently preparing for a DUI enforcement operation in San Joaquin County, with saturation patrols coming up the weekend of Jan. 3 and 4.

"We'll have some additional officers out for the New Year as well," Quintero said.

Those planning to celebrate the New Year with alcohol are reminded to designate a driver to make sure everyone arrives home safely.