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Drunken driver, 14, crashes stolen auto into Auburn Police squad car during chase

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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An underage driver suspected to be intoxicated behind the wheel of a stolen car is in custody after crashing into an Auburn Police car. And to make matters even worse for the 14-year-old Auburn youth, police found electronics with him that they suspect are stolen property. The youth, whose name isn’t being released by authorities because of his age, suffered minor injuries in the collision early Sunday morning, Auburn Police Capt. John Ruffcorn said. He was taken to Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital for treatment before being booked into Placer County Juvenile Hall. The juvenile now faces vehicle theft and assault-with-a-deadly-weapon charges in relation to the car heist and the subsequent crash. Ruffcorn said the youth also appeared to be intoxicated at the time of the incident and police have mounted an investigation into possible stolen property found with him. Items include car stereos and digital cameras. The Auburn Police officer driving the squad car involved in the low-speed crash was uninjured and the car was still running. Ruffcorn said a mechanical examination will determine whether it will continue to be drivable. He declined to release the name of the officer involved in the crash, stating that all collisions involving police vehicles are subject to an internal examination. The department’s Dodge Charger collided head-on during the pursuit, which was joined by two other police vehicles. The driver had stolen the vehicle earlier that morning from a residential street on the edge of Downtown Auburn. Chantel Hernandez said her son, Zach, heard rustling outside his Finley Street home at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday. When he went outside to investigate, he watched his Nissan Sentra being driven away. Auburn Police caught up with the stolen car and driver soon afterward. In the ensuing pursuit, the Sentra and an Auburn Police Charger collided at the Race Track Street-Recreation Drive intersection, next to Recreation Park. Hernandez said the Nissan was totaled in the collision. That’s particularly troubling to her son because Zach had no theft insurance on the car and it’s his transportation to a job he has at a printing business in North Auburn. Zach Hernandez couldn’t be reached for comment Monday. Ruffcorn said that members of the public with any information on possible stolen electronics should contact Auburn Police.