The California Highway Patrol Wednesday said Wyatt Wheeler, 18, of Manteca was the driver in the fatal crash that occurred Friday night on the 120 Bypass.
The Bulletin erroneously reported the time and day of the fatal accident that followed a street racing incident. It occurred shortly before 10 p.m. Friday.
Julie Higgenbothom — mother of 18-year-old Robert James Karbowski who was the passenger killed in the vehicle driven by Wheeler — disputed the Manteca Police version of the incident contending a police vehicle bumped the car her son was in causing the accident.
Information released so far by the California Highway Patrol confirms Manteca Police accounts that the driver for “unknown reasons” veered across the center divider on the 120 Bypass and crashed into a 2007 Toyota.
Manteca Police Sgt. Gregg Beall called off his pursuit when he followed the 2009 Ford Crown Victoria westbound onto Highway 120 because of the “reckless” nature of the chase.
Beall was nowhere near the fleeing car and had actually lost sight of the vehicle.
Beall was driving an unmarked car when he saw two cars involved in an apparent road race on South Union Road Friday night — the Crown Victoria and a Honda. Beall said he caught up with the cars near the Highway 120 Bypass as they drove over the freeway overpass turning on his lights and siren in an attempt to make a traffic stop and warn oncoming traffic as the pair raced away.
Beall said he followed the Crown Victoria onto Highway 120 westbound and witnessed it driving recklessly taking the shoulders to pass freeway traffic. The sergeant said he soon decided to call off his pursuit for the safety of the motoring public. A mile and a half down the freeway the officer found a collision on the opposite side of the Bypass where the Crown Victoria had collided with an eastbound Toyota Corolla and an 18-wheeler truck after it had cut across the center divider.
According to Wednesday’s CHP release the other injured in the collision was the driver of the Toyota Arvin Fotecha, 38, of Tracy. He had minor injuries. He was extricated from his vehicle by Manteca firefighters and transported to a Modesto hospital. The driver of the 18-wheeler was Miguel Moreno, 36, of Modesto. He was uninjured.
CHP officer James Smith reported that alcohol was not a factor in the collision. He added the CHP nor Manteca Police have made aby arrests in connection with the accident.