Gabriel Barajas, Jr., 20, was in the front passenger seat of a 1999 Acura that struck the power pole at 9:58 a.m. on Highway 33 about half a mile south of Pomelo Avenue, according to the Stanislaus County Sheriff Coroner’s Division and the California Highway Patrol.
He died at the scene from crash-related injuries, according to the coroner’s office.
The driver of the Acura, Fabian Moralez, was taken to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto for treatment of minor injuries, according to CHP officer Eric Parsons. The 21-year-old Patterson resident has since been released from the hospital.
His 17-year-old brother, Samuel Moralez Jr., also of Patterson, was riding in the back seat and was taken to the same hospital with moderate injuries, Parsons said. He was in fair condition Tuesday, April 2, according to Doctors Medical Center staff.
Fabian Moralez told the CHP he was traveling south at an unknown rate of speed and swerved right to avoid an oncoming orange and purple Chrysler in his lane, according to officer Steve Buehner. He overcorrected, swerving left and crossing the roadway, and the right front side of the car hit the pole east of the highway, the officer said.
There was no sign of a Chrysler when CHP officers arrived at the scene, according to Buehner.
Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputies blocked off the highway between Elfers and Marshall roads for more than two hours as CHP and Turlock Irrigation District crews worked at the crash site.
About 600 homes and businesses lost electricity at 11:17 a.m. while TID crews rerouted power as they attended to the downed power line, according to TID spokesman Herb Smart. Areas of town that were without electricity included Bartch Avenue, parts of Highway 33 north of Marshall Road, portions of Sperry Avenue and Poppy Avenue, an area of downtown Patterson and parts of eastern rural Patterson, according to TID’s website.
Electrical service was restored to much of the area by 2:30 p.m. Saturday, but a stretch of Highway 33 between Marshall Road and Pomelo Avenue remained without power until 5:30 p.m., according to Smart and reports on the TID website.
Barajas and the Moralezes were all wearing seat belts, Parsons said. He said drugs and alcohol apparently played no role in the accident.
According to an aunt of Barajas, Josie Mojica, the three were expected to visit Modesto on Saturday, but she speculated that they might have decided to go to Newman first.
Fabian Moralez could not be reached for comment this week for further explanation.
Mojica, who runs Rojo Hair Design, 355 E St., with Barajas’ mother, Claudia Hernandez, said many people in the community have sent letters, emails and flowers to the bereaved family.
“We are completely surprised,” Mojica said. “We had no idea how many people cared about him.”
Barajas, who spent all his life in Patterson, worked as a warehouseman at the CVS distribution center in Keystone Pacific Business Park. His aunt described him as “home-oriented” and said he enjoyed time with family and friends and loved his Chevrolet Malibu, Nike shoes and wearing baseball caps for his favorite sports teams.
Family members are urging anyone with information about the Chrysler that Fabian Moralez described as contributing to the accident to contact the California Highway Patrol.
• Contact Jonathan Partridge at 892-6187, ext. 26, or firstname.lastname@example.org.