A Stanislaus County deputy was killed in a crash Sunday night in Modesto while pursuing a suspected DUI driver, according to the Sheriff's Department.
Deputy Antonio "Tony" Hinostroza had the patrol car's lights and sirens on and was traveling fast down Claribel Road when his vehicle hit the center divider and he lost control, KTLA sister station KTXL in Sacramento reported. The car slammed into a power pole, killing the veteran deputy.
Christian Contreras and his girlfriend, Aileen Hernandez, had blocked the road and tried to save him. Hours later, they left candles at the scene to honor his memory.
"It’s not real. No one should see that, you know?" Contreras told the station. He said, "Just wanted his family to know that he wasn’t alone in his last moments."
"We were here to help him and we were doing our best," Hernandez added. "Like, I was trying to open the door from the other side."
Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson described Hinostroza a dedicated deputy who protected Stanislaus County for the past 19 years.
"Tony and I used to be canine handlers together," Christianson said. "Tony has served this office with distinction."
Hinostroza was on his way to stop suspected drunken driver Jonathan Carrillo-Gonzalez, according to the sheriff.
The pursuit began after police in Riverbank were called to investigate Carrillo-Gonzalez, who was seemingly passed out inside a Cadillac Escalade at Patterson and Oakdale roads, KTXL reported. Carrillo-Gonzalez sped off, investigators say, leading officers and deputies on a chase.
The suspect tried to run from deputies but ended up getting caught, according to Christianson.
Carrillo-Gonzalez, 30, had been convicted and served time for at least three prior DUIs. He was booked into jail on suspicion of driving under the influence, evasion and resisting arrest.
"He should still be in prison. He never should have been released from prison," Christianson said.
Hinostroza is survived by his son and his mother.
KTXL spoke to the suspect’s grandmother, who told a reporter she had just learned of the incident on Monday and said that her grandson is a good, hardworking man who made mistakes in the past.
The station also tried to speak to the suspect from behind bars, but he denied the request.