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Novato man killed in hit-and-run had been walking in middle of road

A 21-year-old Novato man who was killed July 12 by a hit-and-run driver near Rohnert Park was walking in the middle of the road when a car hit him from behind, CHP officials said.

Investigators don’t know how long Basilio Nathan Garza Jr., a Novato native recently living in Santa Rosa, had been walking after getting out of a vehicle with his girlfriend and two other people when he was struck and killed by a car that drove away, CHP spokesman Jon Sloat said.

He appeared to have just begun to turn when he was hit.

“He had a fight with his best friend, and they both got out of the car. They fought again and walked away in separate directions,” according to CHP investigator B. Smith.

Without a statement from the driver suspected of hitting Garza, investigators still were piecing together what happened in the hours leading up to the deadly collision.

John Mesker, 33, of Santa Rosa turned himself in two days after the crash but declined to talk with the investigating officer, Sloat said. Mesker posted bond on $20,000 bail and was released Tuesday, according to the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors have not yet filed any charges against Mesker. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.

Sloat said investigators don’t yet know if either man was intoxicated at the time.

Garza’s death has been keenly felt in Novato, where he grew up. He was a Boy Scout and played lacrosse before graduating from San Marin High School in 2011.

For for the past 2½ years, Garza worked at Whole Foods Markets in Novato and at both stores in Santa Rosa.

Recently, he helped run the prepared foods department at the branch on Yulupa Avenue, said Leslie Graves, a marketing and community relations team leader.

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