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Two fatal Ceres crashes within week involved altered trucks | News

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Two fatal Ceres crashes within week involved altered trucks
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CERES, CA - The Chevy truck that struck four middle school girls Wednesday morning in Ceres was an altered vehicle.

Ceres police said the truck had its suspension altered to lift the truck and had oversized wheels.

Just one week before the deadly Ceres accident, a woman was killed in Tracy after her Hyundai was struck by an oversized truck running a red light.

"The accident was caused by him running a red light, but where he made impact with the vehicle, the bumper of his truck lined up with the window of her vehicle at head height," Tracy Police Department Lt. Jeremy Watney said. "The size of the truck played a factor in her death."

Suspension mechanic Jamie Odom said he believes 95 percent of suspension alterations are for aesthetic reasons. The alterations are legal under certain guidelines:

- The frame can't be more than 36 inches from the ground
- Headlights can't be more than 54 inches from the ground
- Tires can't stick out past the fender well unless a fender extension is put on
- If more than 3/4 of the tire is exposed, a mud flap is required

The process requires lowering the suspension of the vehicle to raise the carriage.

"It's an involved procedure, but can be done in someone's driveway," Odom said. "The truck becomes top heavy because you lifted it and heavier, so it'll use up more fuel."

The truck involved in the deadly Tracy accident was legal, but Ceres Police said the oversized truck, which struck the four girls, was illegal by traffic enforcement standards.

"He would've been cited for the height and oversized tires," Ceres Police Department Sgt. Dan Vierra said.

The citation would be a Fix-It Ticket, similar to a burn out headlight.

Lt. Watney said size could play a factor in these deadly accidents by altering visibility.

"It's similar to having a small child behind the wheel. You can't see close over the hood," Watney said.

Odom disagrees.

"If anything, you have more visibility because you can see above the traffic," Odom said. "I guess the only way you'd miss someone is if they are directly in front of the truck and shorter than the hood, but why wouldn't you see them as you approach?"

Ceres Police investigators said they hope to conclude the investigation by the end of next week.

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