BRENTWOOD — A man suspected of driving a car the wrong way on Highway 4 and colliding head-on with a mini-van did not have insurance, drove without a license and was under the influence, the California Highway Patrol said Sunday.
Rafael Duarte, 24, of Oakley, was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI, possession of and driving a stolen vehicle, driving without an actice drivers’ license, driving with no vehicle insurance and driving the wrong way on a highway causing injury, CHP spokesman Officer Brandon Correia said. Police arrested him upon his release from John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, where he went with minor injuries after the Saturday night crash.
A 61-year-old San Francisco woman remained in stable condition Sunday at the same hospital after suffering major injuries in the crash, Correia said, as did the 22-year-old unidentified passenger in the Honda Accord that Duarte is suspected of driving. That man was taken to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley.
Six other people inside the Honda Odyssey minivan that was smashed also went to the hospital with a varying degree of injuries that weren’t life-threatening, Correia said. The crash happened around 8:05 p.m. after the CHP says Duarte drove a car drove eastbound onto the westbound direction of Highway 4 at Sand Creek Road, authorities said.
Two of the injured were young children, but they were OK, Correia said. A 10-year-old girl and 2-year-old girl suffered minor injuries, and 1-year-old girl went by ambulance to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland out of precaution. All three are from San Francisco.
A 30-year-old man driving the Odyssey suffered moderate injuries, while a 34-year-old woman and a 72-year-old woman who were passengers in the van received minor injuries, Correia said. They all went to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek.
According to the CHP, Duarte drove the Accord very fast while going the wrong way on Highway 4, passing several cars along the way before hitting the Odyssey head-on. The Accord had been stolen out of Concord on Saturday morning, Correia said.
Ross Macumber, a spokesman and interim battalion chief with the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District, saw the aftermath of the crash as he drove east on Highway 4 to his station in Brentwood.
Macumber said he saw a cloud of dust appear in the distance, then saw the mini-van with major front-end damage as he approached. He also saw the Honda Accord on its roof down an embankment. He broke the windows to help the seven people in the mini-van.
The CHP shut down Highway 4 in both directions for more than an hour after the crash. They opened it again at 9:46 p.m.
Duarte remained in the County Jail in Martinez on Sunday in lieu of $110,000 bail.
Staff writer Rowena Coetsee contributed to this story.
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