Winton fugitive who killed beautiful young Merced couple back in custody

Bruce Erickson, a man facing trial in Madera County for double vehicular manslaughter, had been a fugitive from justice after failing to appear for a February 10th court appearance. He was taken into custody Feb. 18 in Merced County on a $200,000 warrant for his arrest.

Erickson, 67, of Winton was originally arrested in May 2015 after allegedly driving drunk and crashing on Highway 99 just north of Chowchilla. A young Merced couple, Juan Barragan Cervantes and Vanessa Tapetillo, both 28, died in the collision.

The California Highway Patrol said the crash took place after Erickson left Farnesi’s restaurant in Chowchilla. He then proceeded to crash into multiple vehicles while hauling a trailer with his truck.

Erickson eventually lost control of his truck at the Road 15 exit, going airborne and landing on the young couple’s car, killing them instantly.

Vanessa was a mother of two kids (a 10 yr old boy and 6 yr old girl) and a Sociology major at CSU-Stanislaus, and Juan was a former Marine who served two tours in Iraq. He was preparing to enter college.

Erickson was free on a $100,000 bail when he failed to appear for the Feb. 10 court date. Erickson faces between 6 to 12 years in prison if convicted.

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