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Citrus Heights police: street racing, unlicensed driver played role in major collision

Vinnie Sterio, Citrus Heights
Vinnie Alex Sterio was arrested after hitting several pedestrians in Citrus Heights Monday night. // Image courtesy, CHPD

Sentinel staff report–
Following a preliminary investigation into the cause of a major collision on Greenback Lane that involved multiple vehicles and several pedestrians being hit on Monday night, Citrus Heights police said in a news release on Wednesday that investigators believe street racing and unsafe driving were factors in the collisions. An 18-year-old driver who was involved in the collision was also arrested.

The June 18 collision occurred on Greenback Lane near the Dairy Queen at Binet Drive, where police said several 911 calls were received regarding a two-vehicle collision, around 10:08 p.m. Six minutes later, police received updates stating that a white Chevy Tahoe had subsequently crashed into two pedestrians, who were both seriously injured and were found still laying in the roadway when Metro Fire personnel arrived.

Both pedestrians were transported to the hospital in critical condition. As of Wednesday, one is listed in serious condition and the other is still listed in critical condition, police said. A third pedestrian was also injured after jumping out of the way and sustaining a broken wrist.

An initial investigation has led police to believe three vehicles, including a Nissan Sentra, were involved in street racing on westbound Greenback Lane. The vehicles were reportedly observed “cutting each other off,” prior to the collision, and the Nissan ended up rear-ending another un-involved vehicle, police said.

The driver of the Nissan Sentra “got out of her vehicle to assist the driver she had just rear ended,” police said, and at least one other vehicle stopped on the edge of the roadway to help. The driver who was rear-ended sustained minor injuries, and their vehicle was left blocking a portion of westbound Greenback Lane.

While sitting on the sidewalk waiting for paramedics to arrive, a white Chevy Tahoe began to approach the collision scene and “unsafely passed through the collision scene and collided with a vehicle that was exiting a nearby driveway,” police said.

“As a result of the second collision, the driver of the Chevy Tahoe lost control of his vehicle and ran over two pedestrians, including the driver of the Nissan Sentra from the initial collision,” Wednesday’s news release stated.

The driver of the Chevy Tahoe was identified by police as Vinnie Alex Sterio, of Citrus Heights, who was arrested for driving without a license. Online inmate records indicate he was released on June 19, but police said additional charges may be sought after investigations are concluded for both collisions.

Police said neither alcohol nor drugs appear to be factors in Monday night’s collisions, but investigators believe “speed is most likely a factor in both collisions.”

Authorities are still working to identify two other vehicles that were reportedly involved in street racing prior to the initial collision. Police said a witness told them that one of the vehicles involved may have been a late-model black Ford Mustang.

Anyone with information about the collisions is asked to contact the police department’s non-emergency phone line at (916) 727-5500.

Police also advised drivers to slow down and determine whether it’s safe to pass when approaching a collision scene or stranded vehicle blocking the roadway.

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