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Driver wanted for hitting Santa Rosa bicyclist still at large

A man wanted for hitting a bicyclist with his car in east Santa Rosa and then running from the crash scene remained at large Monday morning, according to Santa Rosa police.

The rider, Mark Howell, 50, of Santa Rosa was treated for his injuries at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and released.

The driver struck Howell at about 12:15 p.m. Sunday at Fourth Street and Farmers Lane.

Hed reportedly taken his eyes of the road to look at a nearby Sonoma County sheriffs patrol car and hit the rider, according to initial reports.

The driver then left the 1999 Ford Windstar van he was driving, leaving the keys in the ignition. He ran behind the Flamingo Hotel and apparently up into the hillside neighborhood, where he escaped an extensive hunt.

More than a dozen law enforcement officers combed the steep, brushy neighborhood. A sheriffs tracking dog and the helicopter crew also helped look for the man.

Several residents called police to say they saw him popping up on various streets in the upscale neighborhood, but after about two hours, the search was cancelled, police said.

Officers Monday continued to try and identify the man.

The van, with minor front end damage, was towed as evidence.

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