Mendota man dies after high speed chase crash in Kerman

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A man who police say should have never been on the streets has died after slamming a stolen car into a tree during a high speed chase. The crash happened Wednesday night in a residential neighborhood in Kerman, on Stanislaus near Merlot. The driver, 25-year-old Felix Gutierrez died. His passenger had minor injuries. Police say they found a loaded handgun in the floorboard of the Acura Integra.

A block away from Kerman police headquarters Wednesday night, an officer ran the license plates on a speeding car that turned up stolen out of Mendota. Police Chief Joe Blohm says before the officer even turned his lights on to initiate a traffic stop, the driver of the car took off.

Chief Joe Blohm said, "We're estimating he was going 60 to 65 miles an hour. We had just entered the residential area primarily when the crash had happened."

Officers say the suspect, Felix Gutierrez, ran several stop signs and at least one red light. Investigators say the pursuit was just two minutes from start to finish. The chief says the officer was following their pursuit policy and had his lights and sirens on, while updating dispatchers of his speed and he also called for backup and air support, but by the time additional officers arrived, the car had already uprooted a tree.

Gutierrez has a long criminal past and is known to police as a car thief. Officers say he is also a gang member. He had a passenger from Kerman who suffered minor injuries in the crash. Officers say when the car hit the tree, it caused it to spin and plummet through a fence, landing partially in a backyard.

The crash investigation has been turned over the California Highway Patrol. Officers will be documenting everything from tire marks to the speeds of the suspect at the time of the collision.

Officers say the car was stolen Tuesday out of Mendota. Investigators will also be looking into whether the suspect was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash.

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