Merced Man Leads Police on High Speed Chase, Crashes, Dies

A violent crash off Highway 99 in Livingston takes the life of a driver who police say was on the run from them. The Merced Police Department said it all happened Wednesday morning around 10:30am. Police said they were attempting a traffic stop on 31-year old Rene Williams, Jr. in Atwater. They said Wiliams took off and crashed his car through a tree off the freeway near Winton Parkway.

As slow traffic creeped along northbound Highway 99, California Highway Patrol officers were down in a ditch, investigating how a 1997 Honda Accord ended up mangled, and the driver dead.

Merced CHP public information officer Eric Zuniga stated, "The tree impacted the driver's side of the vehicle, and it was pretty violent. It went in about four feet, so ya, it was a pretty violent collision."

Officers said they tried to pull over Williams near Buhack and Bellevue roads.

"They observed the vehicle driving on the wrong side of the roadway, so they tried to stop the vehicle for that violation," said Lt. Donald King.

King stated the driver took off at a high rate of speed, and jumped on the 99 north.

Zuniga added, "At that time, you can tell where the vehicle lost control, went across both lanes of the 99 onto the right shoulder, and down a dirt embankment where it collided with a tree."

Zuniga said the driver likely hit the tree at a speed higher than 65 miles per hour. A small fire started, but first responders quickly put it out. It's been a long while, Zuniga said, since he's seen a crash this intense.

"We are very grateful that nobody else was involved, and he had no passengers in the vehicle," ended Zuniga.

Merced Police couldn't say yet if the driver had any a prior criminal history.

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