The owner of the pickup believed to have struck and killed a bicyclist on Aug. 2 and fled the scene has contacted the California Highway Patrol but was not arrested Wednesday.
Robert Andres Lopez was killed in the 7:30 p.m. hit-and-run crash on River Road east of Ryder Way. Witnesses said that a black sports utility vehicle (SUV) was westbound on River Road and struck Lopez who was peddling in the same direction near Ryder Way. The driver continued westbound.
The CHP issued a statement that they were looking for an early 2000’s Chevy Tahoe or GMC Yukon with black rims and a black aftermarket bumper. Later they released a photo taken by a surveillance video in a yard along River Road. The grainy photo showed the vehicle and a driver, who appeared to be Caucasian.
In response to the photo circulated on social media, the owner of the vehicle willingly came into the CHP office in Salida on Wednesday. He gave investigators a statement while the vehicle was combed for evidence. He was then released.
“There’s certain circumstances where we would arrest him right away but in cases like this we have to build a case,” said Officer Ming Hsu. “Aside from the fact that, yeah, it might be his car – more than likely – it is pretty unique, we have to prove that he was the driver. There are a lot of things we have to make sure are buttoned up before we can recommend charges. I cannot confirm that the registered owner is the driver because that’s still under investigation but we are confident that this is the vehicle.”
The owner is still the primary suspect, said Hsu.
The CHP would like to hear from anyone who has information who may know something about the vehicle or driver by calling 545-7440.