Sacto 9-1-1
October 25, 2013
Suspect in Lodi crash had been drinking, documents indicate

Ryan Christopher Morales.pngA suspect in the Tuesday car crash that killed five people had been drinking apple vodka with his father shortly before the accident, according to search warrant documents filed with the San Joaquin Superior Court.

Ryan Christopher Morales, 28, also was driving without a valid driver's license and had recently been released from San Quentin State Prison after serving time for attempting to evade a police officer while driving recklessly, state records show.

Morales has not been charged, but was named formally as a suspect by Lodi police today and was hospitalized in critical condition after the accident. Police have scheduled a press conference in Lodi Monday to discuss the case.

Search warrant documents indicate that Morales was driving a GMC Yukon and was pinned inside after the crash. An officer "could smell an odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from his person," the documents state.

The warrant documents indicate the Yukon Morales was driving was traveling "at a high rate of speed" when he collided with a Ford F-150 truck carrying a family of six, including a woman seven months pregnant.

The crash occcurred at 5:21 p.m. and at 10 p.m. police went to a home 1.2 miles away where Morales was living with his parents.

There, Morales' mother, Tracy, said that when she got home from work her husband, James, and Ryan Morales were playing ping pong in the garage and that they had been drinking, according to the documents.

James Morales told police that he and his son had begun drinking around 4 p.m. after his son brought home a 750 ml bottle of vodka that they finished, the documents state.
"It should be noted that it was difficult to get a clear statement from James because he appeared to be intoxicated," the documents state.

No one answered the phone at the Morales home Friday.

Earlier Friday, a relative of the family members killed called for a "thorough and complete investigation of what happened in this tragic accident and that justice be done."

Felipe Miranda, of Lodi, said he was the brother of Luis Miranda, 32, who was killed Tuesday along with his pregnant wife, Viviana Rodriguez, 31.

The crash also killed three of their four children: 12-year-old Irving, 6-year-old Jose and 5-year-old Stephanie.

Their other child, 9-year-old Eden, survived and was listed in critical condition after the accident.
"The most important thing for us now is the health of Eden, which is reported to be stable but he is still not out of danger," Miranda said in Spanish at a press conference at the Mexican consulate in Sacramento, where he was flanked by Mexican consul general Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez and Douglas Gessell, a consulting attorney for the consulate.

Miranda described his family as "good hardworking people seeking for a better future for themselves, their children and their community in this country."

"Unfortunately, their plans have been disrupted in the tragic way that you all know," he added. "This has been deeply painful for us all."

Miranda did not take questions, but said the family is setting up a trust fund for Eden.

"We are also focused on the transportation to Mexico of the bodies of our family members, where our familes are waiting to give them a holy burial according to our traditions," he said.

PHOTO: Ryan Christopher Morales is a suspect in the crash that killed five people in Lodi on Tuesday, Oct. 22. Credit: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

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