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Geyser pops up after car strikes fire hydrant
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Manteca firefighters attempt to stem the flow of a geyser from a sheared off fire hydrant on Button Avenue at the entrance to the Black Bear Diner just east of Highway 99. - photo by GLENN KAHL

An impromptu water geyser gushed skyward by the Black Bear Diner after a 19-year-old Manteca motorist driving southbound on Button Avenue lost control of his car and spun into a fire hydrant.

The noontime crash served as something of a curiosity to diners at the restaurant who had front row seats for both the collision and seeing water shoot into the air for some 15 minutes. The northbound traffic on Button Avenue from Yosemite Avenue was detoured for nearly half an hour by police. 

Zachery Joshua Radcliff was unhurt in the crash, according to police. The geyser filled part of the restaurant’s parking lot with water with customers having to walk across curbing at the rear of the lot to reach their vehicles. They still stepped into water as they opened car doors.

The five to six inch deep water was a challenge to firefighters trying to locate the drain and clear it of obstructions to allow the water to run down into the storm drain. City crews responded to the scene to repair the broken hydrant on the east side of Button Avenue.

An area of lawn had also been ripped out by the spinning vehicle that sustained damage to its right rear side panel along with an apparent broken axle as well as front wheel damage. Radcliff told police he had just purchased the vehicle and hadn’t had time to find insurance.