In the early morning hours of July 29, 2002, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputies pulled up on a suspicious vehicle. A truck with license plates to another type of car pulled into the driveway of a home in southwest Modesto. The truck then backed out, ramming the deputies’ patrol car, and sped off. The patrol vehicle was damaged and unable to follow.
Officers spotted the suspect vehicle in the downtown area of Modesto going eastbound on Yosemite and followed it into the airport district. A pursuit ensued and the 18-year-old suspect sped away eastbound on Mono Drive at estimated speeds of 60-65 miles per hour.
Modesto PD Sergeant Steve May, a 23 year veteran, was driving his patrol car south on S. Santa Cruz Ave. at 1:45 a.m. searching for the fleeing suspect. While attempting to evade police, the suspect recklessly sped through a residential area, running multiple stop signs. At the intersection of Mono and S. Santa Cruz the suspect struck Sgt. May’s patrol car. The impact threw May’s car into a tree in front of a residence at 306 S. Santa Cruz. The suspect was ejected from his vehicle when it struck the residence. He died on scene. A resident in the house sustained minor injury.
Sergeant May was trapped inside of his patrol car after it came to rest. Modesto Police, Firefighters and Stanislaus County Consolidated Fire, worked to free him using the jaws of life. AMR stood by, caring for May while waiting for him to be freed. After being trapped approximately 40 minutes, Sgt. May was rushed to Memorial Medical Center suffering from major injuries including a fractured skull, fractures to his face and jaw, left clavicle, right forearm, and left leg.
Sergeant May never regained consciousness after the violent collision. He was transported to a Bay Area rehabilitation hospital in September of 2002 and eventually moved to the Kindred Rehabilitation Hospital in downtown Modesto. Steve May died on July 23, 2009 from complications resulting from injuries sustained in the 2002 collision.
Sgt. May is survived by his wife of 30 years, Diana May, and their two grown children, Corinne and Michael. He also leaves behind his parents and sister.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers from around the state gathered with Sgt. May’s family at Modesto’s First Baptist Church on July 29, 2009, to honor their hero.
Following the memorial ceremony which included emotional tributes from acting Police Chief Mike Harden and former chief Roy Wasden, a long line of police cars and motorcycles, firetrucks, ambulances and private vehicles accompanied the hearse bearing May’s body through the streets of Modesto on its way to Lakewood Memorial Park – seven years to the day after the collision that ultimately took Sergeant May’s life.