Jose Telles, 52, crashed his white 1995 Ford Ranger about 2.6 miles south of Marshall Road, landing in a field between the California Aqueduct and the Delta-Mendota Canal, according to the California Highway Patrol, the county coroner’s office and witnesses.
There were no brake marks near the crash scene, leading ranch owner Frank Arnaudo and others to wonder whether Telles had a heart attack prior to the accident. The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department’s coroner’s division is scheduled to conduct an autopsy Wednesday, Dec. 28.
“We have very limited information on this because the collision wasn’t seen by anybody,” CHP Officer J.B. Peregoy said.
The CHP has not yet determined whether drugs or alcohol may have played a role in the incident, as the crash is still under investigation, he added.
Authorities initially responded to a call at 3:26 p.m. of a person in a vehicle who was bleeding in a field near Marshall and Davis roads south of Patterson, according to a California Highway Patrol computer-aided dispatch report.
Emergency responders spent about 30 minutes searching the area before finding the crash victim in a field near the eastern levee of the California Aqueduct.
Telles, who lived and worked at the ranch, had notified his girlfriend before the crash that he had planned to go on a drive with two of his dogs, Arnaudo said. When only one of the dogs returned home without him, his girlfriend became alarmed and unsuccessfully tried contacting him on his cell phone before he was located, he said.
Telles had worked on the ranch for seven years as an employee of his brother, Enrique, who managed the ranch, Arnaudo said. None of the employees were working Monday as a result of the holiday, he said.
• Jonathan Partridge can be reached at 892-6187 or firstname.lastname@example.org.