FLAG CITY — A big rig crashed into seven parked cars Monday after the driver, who was allegedly high on methamphetamine and talking on a cell phone, fell out of the cab while turning a corner.
Robert Lee Michael Jr., 39, apparently wasn't wearing his seat belt, either, though that traffic infraction is likely the least of his legal woes.
Around 9:20 a.m., the Modesto resident left northbound Interstate 5 onto eastbound Highway 12, said California Highway Patrol Officer Angel Arceo. Michael turned right and then made an immediate right turn onto Thornton Road, a common route for truck drivers taking a break while traveling.
He was traveling around 35 mph when his door, which apparently wasn't latched properly, opened, Arceo said.
Michael began to fall out of the truck, and jerked the wheel further to the right as he fell.
The truck veered off the road, just missed a pole and crashed through a fence into the adjacent Park & Ride lot.
It came to rest only after damaging seven cars, whose carpooling owners were nowhere in the area.
A tow truck hauled the big rig away, and also moved the damaged cars back within parking stall lines in the 35-space lot, Arceo said. Some vehicles had significant damage, including a burgundy Dodge Durango whose passenger side was smashed, along with the driver's side rear bumper. The collision shattered one window, scattering shards of glass across the Winnie the Pooh floor mats.
By 6 p.m., the unlucky owner had yet to discover the damage.
CHP investigators documented the harmed vehicles and placed notes with a case number on the cars.
As for Michael, he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and being under the influence of a controlled substance. He could also be cited for the seat belt violation, as well as using a cell phone without a hands-free device.