Man arrested in connection with Northern California highway rampage
A man who may have been high on methamphetamine smashed into eight cars on two Northern California freeways on New Year’s Day, repeatedly ramming some and injuring three people before plunging his pickup into an irrigation ditch and breaking into a home, the California Highway Patrol said Thursday.
Roderick Weston, 37, of Rocklin was held after sowing terror for two hours before dawn Wednesday on Interstate 5 and Highway 152 in Merced County, authorities said. He was arrested north of Dos Palos — about 80 miles from Fresno — and remained jailed Thursday. It wasn’t immediately clear whether he had an attorney.
Three people were treated but none had major injuries, authorities said.
Weston owns a marble and granite installation business. A representative for the business and Weston’s spouse declined to comment, the Sacramento Bee reported.
CHP officers said that it appeared Weston was under the influence of meth and told investigators that he was driving like the video game “Grand Theft Auto,” Fresno television station KFSN-TV reported.
According to the CHP, Weston abruptly stopped his Toyota Tundra on I-5 about 3:30 a.m., blocking both southbound lanes. When a driver behind him stopped to avoid a crash, Weston jumped on her car hood but leaped off as she drove away, authorities said.
About two hours later, authorities said, Weston began striking vehicles in the fog on Highway 152. He drove the wrong way in eastbound lanes and made U-turns to approach vehicles that tried to get out of his way. In some cases after rear-ending or sideswiping them, he backed up to strike them again, according to the CHP.
An ambulance was rammed several times and flipped on its side. No patients were inside.
Ray Fernandez had pulled his Honda Civic off the road to sleep after celebrating New Year’s Eve at a casino.
“I get woken up by my wife,” Fernandez told KFSN-TV. “She’s telling me some guy is erratically driving so I started the car, and he just T-boned us and he backed up and he was screaming something and she started screaming, and he backed up and T-boned us again.”
Fernandez and his wife jumped out of the car.
“The guy chased us with his car and then … asked if we were American, are we going to kill him and if we called the cops,” Fernandez said. “We told him, ‘No, man! Can you just turn your car off because you’re scaring us. You just ran us off the road and into the bushes.’ “
Weston then began driving his truck in circles in the middle of the road, he said. Fernandez and his wife were rescued by a passing Dodge Ram, which also allegedly was attacked by Weston.
At one point, Ram driver Jake Rianda said his truck was pinned against an exit sign.
“At that point I back up and go forward and he catches up to us and rams us off the road three times and almost flips us,“ Rianda told KFSN-TV.
The group finally tried to hide in a gas station.
Authorities say Weston then drove through a fence and orchard, crashed into an irrigation ditch and broke into a nearby home before being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and assault with a deadly weapon.
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