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Tulare County, California — March 31, 2011

Police say three people were killed Thursday when a police pursuit in southwest Visalia ended in a multiple-vehicle crash.

Shortly after 9:30 p.m., the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department reports, an officer observed 32-year-old Visalia resident Erick Joel Head commit multiple violations in a Mercury Mountaineer sport-utility vehicle along Pearl Harbor Survivors Memorial Freeway (California State Route 99) and initiated a traffic stop. But the suspect driver sped away, at which time the officer gave chase.

Tthe Mountaineer exited the highway at Avenue 280 (Caldwell Avenue), striking two vehicles near the intersection with South Akers Road, including a Chevrolet Impala sedan. Police say 54-year-old Visalia resident Gloria Mendoza, 52-year-old Ruben Mendoza and 17-year-old Ruben Mendoza Jr., were all passengers in the Impala and were killed in the crash.

Mr. Head bailed out of the Mountaineer and tried to escape officers on foot. He was arrested on suspicion of violating parole, as well as evading law enforcement after being treated at Kaweah Delta Hospital.

The crash remains under investigation.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that a pedestrian dies in a U.S. traffic accident every 110 minutes and one is injured every nine minutes.

If you would like an official copy of the police report, request a copy with this form.

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