NORTH FORK – Two mountain area men led sheriff’s deputies and CHP on a nearly hour-long chase through the backroads near North Fork last night, and finally ended up behind bars.
Just before 11 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 8, Sergeant Mike Pace was patrolling the area of Road 200 when he saw a 1993 green colored Jeep Wrangler that had been reported stolen out of Madera.
When the deputy attempted to pull the vehicle over, the driver refused to yield and the chase began along the icy mountain roads.
Matthew Justin Alonzo, 26, of Oakhurst, and Timothy Dean Alec, 46, of Coarsegold, headed south out of North Fork on Road 225, then turned left onto Road 222 (Auberry Road). They continually crossed into the opposing lane of traffic as they navigated the many sharp turns down toward the county line at Kerckhoff Reservoir, where officers in pursuit were anticipating that they would cross into Fresno County at the San Joaquin River.
However, the two men turned left onto Road 235 just before the bridge at the bottom of the canyon, and headed up the winding and icy road toward Redinger Lake. As deputies continued the pursuit, the pair turned onto Italian Bar Road and headed back up toward Road 225, where the chase began.
Meanwhile, the CHP were staging at the Indian Creek mobile home park, blocking access to Minarets Road (Forest Road 81), and forcing the suspects onto Road 225 and back toward North Fork.
As officers followed the stolen vehicle over this circuitous route, the passenger could be seen throwing items from the open-top Jeep Wrangler and at one point, was pointing a flashlight out the back toward the patrol units.
CHP officers prepared to deploy spike strips near Lark Lane on Road 225, and succeeded in taking out at least one front tire, but that did not immediately deter the driver.
The Jeep continued on through North Fork and finally stopped about 4 miles south of town at the Wyle Ranch Road next to Hillside Baptist Church, with the right front tire completely destroyed and torn from the rim.
Both men were immediately taken into custody without further incident.
Inside the stolen vehicle, deputies recovered methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, and nearly a dozen rounds of ammunition, as well as stolen property, according to the Madera County Sheriff’s Office.
The driver, Timothy Alec, was booked into Madera County Department of Corrections on suspicion of recklessly evading a peace officer, vehicle theft, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He remains jailed at this hour with bail set at $25,000.
The passenger, Matthew Alonzo, is facing felony weapons and narcotic charges. He too remains behind bars with bail set at $25,000.