As the temperature rose late Wednesday afternoon, several police officers and a crew of emergency medical technicians arrived at Ninth and G streets.
They loaded Ramón Álvarez into an ambulance for a trip to the hospital.
Whether long overdue, just in the nick of time or strictly precautionary, the move enables behavioral health experts to assess whether his mental state is killing him physically on the sidewalks of downtown Modesto.
In last week's issues I detailed the plight of the 61-year-old Modesto man who, in 2006, began staking out various corners in downtown Modesto to protest perceived injustices he alleges on signs plastered all over his minivan. Among them, he claims a judge raped his 10-year-old daughter and that a sheriff's deputy gave his son drugs.
He recently went on a hunger strike. By his gaunt appearance and obvious weight loss, it certainly appears he isn't getting much nourishment. He refuses to talk, scribbling his curt answers on a notepad.
He's got serious mental issues, though the police just last week contended he didn't yet rise to the level that merited a trip to the Behavioral Health Center for a 72-hour evaluation.
They deemed he was neither a threat to the public, himself nor gravely disabled enough to merit a so-called 5150 detainment.
His condition obviously changed by Wednesday afternoon, when officers went to check on him and called for the ambulance -- something Álvarez's family has wanted for some time, a family member said. The concerns for Álvarez's health were legitimate. He stays in the direct sun or holes up inside the shaded but Dutch-oven-like minivan.
I received an e-mail from the relative. We later talked by phone under the condition of anonymity because of the nature of the allegations Álvarez makes on his signs.
And to clarify those.
No, the family member said, there was no rape by a judge. No deputy gave any family member drugs.
"Crazy talk," the relative called it.
The family is concerned for his safety and health. The relative is scheduled to meet with Police Chief Mike Harden and county behavioral health officials this week to discuss Álvarez's condition.
Álvarez has rejected repeated offers of help, the family member told me. And family pleas to police and mental health officials until Wednesday all elicited the same answer -- that Álvarez's condition didn't merit the 5150 detainment.