Santa Rosa driver arrested in reported hit-and-run crash that killed cyclist
A 35-year-old Santa Rosa man who was bicycling to visit his children was killed in a hit-and-run crash early Thursday on Stony Point Road, according to his family and authorities.
Officers arrested one man who is suspected of striking the bicyclist with his vehicle and fleeing. They continued to search for a second driver who also reportedly struck the man, the CHP said. A family member identified the victim as Lusiano Garcia.
Both drivers left the crash site on Santa Rosa’s southwestern outskirts before emergency personnel arrived, the CHP said. Garcia, who was not wearing a helmet or lights, was found in the southbound left turn lane of Stony Point Road, north of Millbrae Avenue. Neither the family member nor the CHP was sure which direction he’d been traveling before he was hit.
Gyvaughn Smith, 22, of Santa Rosa was booked into jail on suspicion of felony hit-and-run in the crash, as well as misdemeanor driving under the influence and driving without a license, the CHP said.
CHP spokesman Officer Jon Sloat said officers detained Smith 25 minutes after they got a 4:40 a.m. report from a pedestrian of a person down in the roadway on Stony Point Road.
When he was found by officers, Smith was driving a Jeep Liberty on Stony Point Road near Sebastopol Road, 4 miles north of the crash site.
Evidence at the crash site helped officers find Smith and connect him to the incident, Sloat said, though he declined to elaborate on what was found.
A second driver, who authorities said also hit the bicyclist after he was initially struck by Smith, had not yet been located.
A witness called to report the second hit-and-run and described the vehicle as a dark-?colored sedan, Sloat said. It was not clear how much time passed between the first time the bicyclist was struck and the second time, he added.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office withheld the name of the victim in the crash because they were still notifying family members, said Sgt. Spencer Crum, a spokesman for the department. The CHP said he was from Santa Rosa.
A family member, Dawn Diaz of San Diego, identified the victim as Garcia. He had been bicycling to his mother-in-law’s house to visit with his three children, Diaz said. The three children had been living with their grandmother in the aftermath of death of their mother, Mandy Smith, earlier this year, Diaz said. Diaz and Smith were cousins.
“I just keep thinking of those poor babies now,” Diaz said of the children, a 17-year-old boy and two girls, ages 16 and 6.
Garcia had struggled financially and only had a bicycle to get from his house to his mother-in-law’s, Diaz said.
“He would pretty much come over there daily,” she said. “He was living over there for a couple of weeks.”
The 6-year-old had taken her mother’s death very hard, Diaz said, and was on a trip to Disneyland this week with a relative to try to get her mind off of the death. “I just get chills thinking about it,” she said.
Sloat did not know what direction the man was traveling when he was hit, he said. No determination has been made on fault.
The incident closed the roadway for almost three hours before it was reopened at 7:30 a.m.
Smith is scheduled to appear in Sonoma County Superior Court at 1:30 p.m. Monday.
A Facebook page for a man with the same name indicated he studied child psychology and development at the Santa Rosa Junior College and previously attended Rancho Cotate High School in Rohnert Park. The profile says he works for the California Conservation Corps.
Sloat urged witnesses, or anyone who believes they may have been involved, to call the CHP at 707-588-1400.
Staff Writer Hannah Beausang contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter ?@nashellytweets.