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Suspect in stolen car sideswipes deputy’s vehicle
The stolen vehicle a suspect was driving when a deputy's vehicle was sideswiped.

A San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Deputy’s vehicle was sideswiped on Sunday by the driver of the stolen car he was watching at the McHenry Recreation Area south of Escalon.

According to the sheriff’s office, a deputy was on routine patrol near the McHenry Recreation Area on River Road when he ran the plates on a vehicle that came back as stolen. Since the vehicle was unoccupied, he waited to see if anybody would return back to it and eventually saw two subjects climb in the vehicle.

When he activated his lights and siren and attempted to stop the vehicle from leaving the park, the driver of the car sideswiped the patrol cruiser and headed to the exit to the park before fleeing west towards Ripon.

The driver, 39-year-old Michael Norton of Stockton, headed west on River Road at a high rate of speed before losing control of the sedan he was driving and crashing headfirst into a tree in a nearby orchard – prompting both Norton and his unidentified female passenger to flee on foot.

An abundance of assistance from nearby law enforcement agencies including the Ripon Police Department, Escalon Police Department, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol’s Stockton office arrived on scene and helped track down Norton – where he was taken into custody. His female passenger was spotted by the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office helicopter which observed her hiding in a tree. She was detained, and initial word about whether she faced charges for her involvement in the incident.

McHenry Recreation Area, which is located along the southern border of San Joaquin County and not far from the intersection of River Road and McHenry Avenue, is a Stanislaus River park that was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide river access to residents in the area. The park is patrolled by Army Corps of Engineers rangers and includes a park host that is on-site all year long, and law enforcement is commonly provided by the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office – especially during the busy summer months when the park fills with people looking to cool off on warm summer days. It is unknown what Norton was doing in the park.

Norton is being held in the San Joaquin County Jail on $200,000 bail on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, obstructing or resisting an officer, evasion of police, vehicle theft, and possession of a stolen vehicle.

He is due to appear in the Department M1 of the Manteca branch of the San Joaquin County Superior Court on Thursday, June 18 at 1:30 p.m. to answer to the charges against him.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.