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Plow driver facing charges

By AMY LINDBLOM

A Sierra Village business owner was jailed Saturday after 10 witnesses say he buried a car and a pay telephone with his snowplow.

Frederick Lee Guthmiller, 41, who operates Sierra Village Chevron, was released from the Tuolumne County Jail on $30,000 bail within hours of being booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon — his snowplow.

According to a sheriff's report, Marcus Martinez, 59, of Modesto called 911 from a pay telephone to complain that a snowplow operator was "going crazy, terrorizing people."

Martinez, along with friends and relatives, had driven up to the mountains in three cars for a day in the snow, the report said. About 2:30 p.m., Martinez said, all three pulled off Highway 108 in front of Sierra Village Chevron.

They were among numerous cars parked near the station, said Ana Lee, who, with her husband and children, were part of the Martinez group. Some of the drivers were putting on chains.

"There was nowhere else to go because of all the cars, it wasn't like we were the only ones parked there," Lee said this morning.

Martinez's daughter took advantage of the break to find a restroom and took her car keys with her, the report said.

Within moments, Guthmiller came out of the station and began yelling obscenities at all the drivers, ordering them to move their cars.

Most of the drivers did so. But because Martinez's daughter had taken the keys with her, her car remained.

That's when Guthmiller got into his snowplow tractor, started taking snow from a nearby embankment and dumped it on and around the parked car — all while yelling obscenities, Martinez told a deputy.

Lee's seventh-grade daughter and other teens sitting inside the car jumped out before it got boxed in with snow, Lee said.

After dumping several loads of snow and blocking it in, Guthmiller got out of the snowplow and approached Jerry Sanders, 38, of St. Joseph, Mo., who was part of the Martinez-Lee group.


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