A road race in south Manteca drew the attention of a police gang suppression unit sergeant in an unmarked car on South Union Road at Atherton Drive Tuesday morning.
That led to the initiation of a brief police pursuit that was terminated due to safety concerns for the general public. Shortly thereafter one of the fleeing vehicles cut across the Highway 120 Bypass center divider and broadsided an eastbound Toyota.
Robert James Karbowski, 18, of Lathrop — a passenger in the fleeing Ford Crown Victoria — was killed. The driver of the Ford — as well as the driver of the Toyota — sustained major injuries.
Sgt. Gregg Beall had given chase but suspended his pursuit due to high speeds and seeing the suspect vehicle passing traffic on both shoulders of the freeway. Police said the driver of the one suspect vehicle was not aware the officer had terminated his pursuit for the safety of the motoring public and continued to flee.
Beall had been near the intersection of South Union Road and Atherton Drive in his unmarked police vehicle shortly before 10 a.m. when he observed two vehicles — a Crown Victoria and a small Honda — street racing.
Sgt. Jodie Estarziau said both vehicles were northbound on South Union Road from Atherton Drive. Sgt. Beall made a U-turn and caught up with the vehicles at the intersection of South Union Road and eastbound Highway 120 onramp where they were stopped at the red light.
As the light turned green, the Crown Victoria allegedly passed the Honda on the right shoulder as they went over the freeway overpass. The officer activated his lights and siren in an attempt to move vehicles out of the way and to initiate a traffic stop. As he did, he said the Crown Victoria accelerated, ran the red light for the westbound Highway 120 on ramp and entered into the westbound Highway 120 traffic lanes.
When the chase reached westbound Highway 120 and Airport Way, Beall terminated his pursuit as the suspect Crown Victoria was being driven recklessly on both sides of the Bypass traffic lanes. Beall lost sight of the vehicle following the termination of the pursuit, Sgt. Estarziau said.
A short time later about a mile and a half down the freeway, Beall came upon a collision on the opposite side of the 120 Bypass. The Crown Victoria had made a U-turn crossing over the center median and was broadsided by an eastbound Toyota Corolla.
Police reported that both occupants of the Crown Victoria received major injuries. Beall and an off-duty emergency room nurse joined in performing CPR on one of the victims. The driver and the passenger in the Crown Victoria were transported to San Joaquin County General Hospital, with the passenger later passing away. The motorist in the Toyota Corolla was extricated from his vehicle by Manteca firefighters and transported to a Modesto hospital.