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Big rig driver arrested after vehicle pursuit with CHP. He’s also accused of hit-and-run

A big-rig truck driver from Tracy was arrested Saturday for alleged hit and run following a pursuit through Merced County, according to authorities.

At about 9 a.m., officers responded to a report of a hit-and-run collision that is said to have occurred in the area of Santa Fe Avenue and East Avenue in Stanislaus County, just east of Turlock, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Eric Zuniga.

Authorities said the victim followed the suspect vehicle, which CHP described as a three-axle Freightliner with a car-hauling trailer that had vehicles onboard.

Merced-area CHP units attempted to stop the truck driver along southbound Highway 99 just north of Winton Parkway, when the driver failed to yield and continued driving south.

The driver, identified as 47-year-old Silvano Villarreal, continued driving south along Highway 99 at a relatively consistent speed not exceeding the speed limit, according to the CHP.

Zuniga said Madera-area CHP and Chowchilla-area CHP assisted and spike strips were deployed near the Merced County and Madera County line.

Several of the vehicle’s tires were disabled and the driver continued driving before exiting the highway at Robertson Boulevard in Chowchilla. According to Zuniga, the driver attempted to make a left turn in the area of a McDonald’s restaurant and the vehicle became disabled on a raised curb in the center median.

Villarreal was arrested and booked into Merced County Jail on suspicion of misdemeanor evading, according to the CHP. According to Zuniga, it is unclear why the driver did not yield to officers and neither drugs nor alcohol appear to be a factor.

No injuries were reported and the incident remains under investigation.