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Multi-vehicle accident results in four fatalities

A multi-vehicle accident along McHenry Avenue, south of Escalon near Hogue Road in the Del Rio area, resulted in the deaths of four people, including a one-year-old girl.

The crash occurred in Stanislas County on Tuesday afternoon, April 9 just after 4 p.m.

A total of four vehicles were involved; those who died in the crash were in two of those vehicles. The original report from the California Highway Patrol was that it was a hit and run, with ‘be on the lookout’ alerts issued to Escalon and Oakdale police departments for the possible responsible vehicle.

But the investigation later determined there were four total vehicles involved and all remained on scene.

According to the CHP report, a vehicle driven by a 19-year-old woman from Merced was northbound on McHenry, just north of Hogue Road. The Stanislaus County Coroner’s Office identified the woman as Angeles Escoto; she was pronounced dead at the scene, as was her passenger, identified as Francis Catano, 22, of Merced.

The CHP noted Escoto was driving a 2004 Mitsubishi and allowed the car to drift into the number two lane of northbound McHenry before re-entering the number one lane. The car then entered the southbound number one lane, directly toward a Toyota SUV. The vehicles collided head on. The driver of the Toyota was identified as Patricia Lopez, 60, of Linden. She was taken by ground ambulance to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto and succumbed there to her injuries. A one-year-old girl, identified as Clara Howells of Turlock – Lopez’s granddaughter – was taken to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto by ground ambulance and died of her injuries there. All the adults involved were wearing their seatbelts; the one-year-old was restrained in a child safety seat as well.

Two other vehicles were also involved but the drivers of those two were not injured. The CHP said a 2001 Ford driven by a 26-year-old Escalon man was southbound on McHenry in the number two lane and struck both the Mitsubishi and the Toyota before coming to rest. A southbound 2014 Dodge van driven by a 54-year-old Modesto man struck the Mitsubishi before coming to rest.

During the rescue operations and the ensuing accident investigation, McHenry Avenue between Ladd Road and the San Joaquin County line was temporarily closed; detours were put in place for motorists to get safely through the area. Riverbank deputies, detectives, SRO, CRD and CSO assisted CHP at the scene of the accident.

It is unknown at this time if drugs or alcohol contributed to the collision.