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Video Shows ‘Sideshow’ Crash That Injured Spectators Near Fresno Airport

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A 19-year-old at the wheel of a Ford Mustang is facing serious charges after Fresno police say he was involved in a street racing sideshow crash that injured several spectators.

The Jan. 29 incident was caught on surveillance video around midnight near the intersection of East Pine and North Villa, a neighborhood south of the Fresno Yosemite International Airport.

When officers arrived on scene, they found one car on fire and two others that were damaged. Several people who were struck by the speeding Mustang were on the ground, Fresno Police Deputy Chief Mike Reid says.

“What appeared to happen — from the victim’s statements — was that there was a display of speed, the driver lost traction, and then made a hard right turn into some cars that were parked there,” said Reid.

Police say the suspected driver, Brandon Hernandez of Visalia, walked away from the collision but later returned. He was arrested on charges of reckless driving and hit and run with injuries.

“Folks are looking for areas where they can do this illegal activity, but they’re picking some residential areas like this,” explained Reid.

“There was a display of speed, the driver lost traction, and then made a hard right turn into some cars that were parked there.” – Fresno Police Deputy Chief Mike Reid

Social Media Posts Indicate Sideshow

Reid says investigating officers scoured social media and found several posts indicating the incident was part of a sideshow.

“Sideshows are typically displays of speed where you you burn off the tires on the back of a car. You do donuts, you do some things in tight, confined spaces,” said Reid.

He says the videos officers found didn’t show anyone else speeding next to the car Hernandez was driving, which leads them to believe it was a sideshow.

Potentially Very Costly Mistake

The Fresno police posted a message on social media before embarking on a multi-agency operation targeting illegal racing and sideshows.

Police warned that insurance premiums can increase by as much as 50% for those who violate street racing laws. With all the fees, ticket fines, impound charges, and insurance rate increases, those involved with street racing face costs approaching $16,000.

But, in this case involving a sideshow with injuries, Hernandez could be on the hook for much more if he’s found responsible.

“He totaled his car. We’re obviously going to impound it for evidence, but it’s worthless. Plus the medical expenses,” says Reid. “He could be facing substantial civil litigation from the other people that are injured by his activity. So this thing could be literally in the hundreds of thousands (of dollars). There were some significant injuries with this.”

7-Day a Week Operation

Fresno police have teamed up with the California Highway Patrol, Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bureau of Automotive Repair for the past month to go after illegal street racing and sideshows throughout the city and county.

In the latest operation about a week ago, officers impounded 29 vehicles, issued 196 citations, and made 12 DUI arrests. Those numbers are pulled from the 234 vehicles that were stopped in total.

Reid says he’ll have a better idea how well the operation has suppressed the illegal activity when he gets more data in early April, but so far — at least anecdotally— he’s seen call volumes drop.

“The fact that we now have a seven day a week constant effort going, I think is really paying dividends,” said Reid.

New billboards on Blackstone Avenue in north Fresno warn of the dangers posted by street racing. (GV Wire/Jim Jakobs)