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Driver in fatal Lodi crash served time for running from officers

1:10 PM, Oct 25, 2013   |    comments
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Photo Gallery: Makeshift memorial for victims of Lodi crash
Ryan Christopher Morales

LODI, CA - The man believed to have caused the crash that killed five people and an unborn baby from one family was released from prison last month after serving time for running from police on New Year's Day.

Witnesses said Ryan Christopher Morales, 28, was traveling south on Ham Lane at extremely high speed Tuesday afternoon when the GMC Yukon he was driving slammed into a Ford F-150 carrying members of the Miranda family.

Eden Miranda, 9, is the sole survivor from the pickup truck and remained in critical but stable condition at the UC Davis Medical Center.

According to a search warrant affidavit, a Lodi police officer found Morales pinned inside the Yukon and said he smelled of alcohol.

PDF: Search warrant affidavit

Morales' mother, Tracy, later told police she had seen her son and his father Tuesday afternoon playing ping pong and drinking in the garage of the house where they're staying on Mariposa Way, one mile from the scene of the crash at Ham Lane and Vine Street.

The father, James Morales, told police he and Ryan started drinking about 4 p.m. and had finished a 750 ml. bottle of UV brand apple-flavored vodka.

The crash occurred at 5:21 pm.

The investigating officer noted it was difficult to get a clear statement from James Morales because he appeared to be intoxicated.

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Ryan Morales began serving a sentence of 16 months at San Quentin Prison last April 17 for the felony vehicle code conviction in Alameda County.

According to the criminal complaint, Morales fled twice from Fremont police on January 1, in both cases driving in the opposite direction of traffic.

Morales admitted driving on the wrong side of the road, but told a Fremont police officer he knew he was not going to hit any cars.

Morales was also charged with driving without a license and having a syringe in his possession.

The Fremont incidents occurred while Morales was on probation for a June 10, 2011 conviction for grand theft in Santa Clara County and while he was awaiting sentencing for a June 7, 2012 conviction for second degree commercial burglary in Alameda County.

Five of the six counts were dismissed in a plea bargain that resulted in the 16-month sentence.

Because of credit for time served and day-for-day credits in prison, Morales was released Sept. 2 to be supervised by the Alameda County Probation Department.

Tracy Morales told police her son had been living in a travel trailer on the driveway of the house on Mariposa Way.

Morales remains hospitalized at Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center.

His mother said he is not doing well, but would not specify the nature of his injuries.

The Yukon is registered to Les Moser, 78, who owns the house on Mariposa Way but is currently hospitalized following cancer surgery.

Moser's son, Landie, told News10 Tracy Morales is his father's live-in care provider, and he doesn't believe Ryan Morales had permission to be driving the Yukon.

"My dad's going to be pissed," Moser said.

by George Warren, GWarren@news10.net 

News10/KXTV

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