Santa Rosa suspected hit-and-run driver of cyclist chased by witnesses, arrested

According to CHP, the Virginia man hit a cyclist on Santa Rosa Avenue Tuesday and never stopped.|

A West Virginia man was arrested for suspected hit and run Tuesday after witnesses who saw him knock a bicyclist to the ground followed him through Santa Rosa until a CHP officer could arrest him, authorities said.

Kyle Elza, 25, was leaving Smith’s Rent-a-Car on Santa Rosa Avenue shortly after 5 p.m. having just renewed his rental of a Ford Focus, when he pulled into the bike lane south of Bellevue Avenue and into Gumecinda Garcia-Gonzales, 60, of Santa Rosa, CHP Sgt. Erik Egide said.

Garcia-Gonzales, who was traveling south in the northbound bike lane, was knocked off his bike and rolled up over the front of the silver Focus before falling to the ground, Egide said.

Garcia-Gonzales suffered visible road rash but was cleared by emergency medical personnel at the scene and did not require transport to a hospital, the sergeant said.

The Focus driver, meanwhile, fled northbound on Santa Rosa Avenue, followed by witnesses in at least three other vehicles, according to preliminary reports. The suspect’s car entered northbound Highway 101 before exiting west on Highway 12, Egide said.

A CHP officer, alerted to the suspect’s whereabouts by witnesses, was waiting at the Highway 12 intersection at Fulton and South Wright roads. Elza was stopped there and arrested for suspicion of felony hit and run, Egide said.

Elza is from French Creek, W. Va., but was driving with an Ohio state license, the CHP said.

He was booked into the Sonoma County Jail, where he was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail Tuesday night.

- Mary Callahan

Mary Callahan

Environment and Climate Change, The Press Democrat

I am in awe of the breathtaking nature here in Sonoma County and am so grateful to live in this spectacular region we call home. I am amazed, too, by the expertise in our community and by the commitment to protecting the land, its waterways, its wildlife and its residents. My goal is to improve understanding of the issues, to find hope and to help all of us navigate the future of our environment. 

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