Friend identifies suspect in fatal hit-and-run in south Austin

Man killed in fiery crash on Elm Creek Drive 8/6/17 (KXAN Photo)
Man killed in fiery crash on Elm Creek Drive 8/6/17 (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A friend of a man allegedly involved in a fatal hit-and-run spoke to the man minutes before it happened.

Juan Daniel Hernandez, 23, is charged with failure to stop and render aid.

Hernandez was driving a black 2009 Chevrolet Silverado, which had heavy front-end damage and was involved in a crash around 11 p.m. Aug. 5 in the 2000 block of East William Cannon Drive, according to an affidavit.

Hernandez’ friend told officers that he spoke with him at a gas station, and later saw Hernandez traveling eastbound on William Cannon Drive and accelerate to more than 60 mph in the 40 mph zone, according to the affidavit. The witness, who said he’s known Hernandez for about two years, told police Hernandez’s truck collided with the driver’s side of a 2010 Nissan Altima that was attempting to turn left onto westbound William Cannon Drive from Elm Creek Drive.

When police arrived, they observed heavy damage to the driver’s side of the vehicle and the victim, identified as 21-year-old Melvin Omar Garay Chacon, was lying in the front driver seat of the car. Chacon died at the scene.

The witness told police he immediately stopped his vehicle and by the time he walked over to Hernandez’s truck, he was gone.

A second witness, Lei Lani Hernandez, told police she didn’t see the crash but drove up after it happened and observed a Hispanic male get into another vehicle and leave the scene, the affidavit states.

Lei Lani told KXAN that she was driving along William Cannon when she came across the crash scene when she saw a fire. She saw who she now believes to be the people involved with the crash leaving the scene.

“I rolled down my window and I saw this red SUV Ford Escape, maybe red, maybe orange, and I heard out the door them saying, ‘No we gotta stop, we gotta stop.'”

But Lei Lani explained that the men drove off quickly, with the passenger door to the SUV still open. She was concerned because this car was fleeing the scene as all the other cars on the road were stopping to assist the victim. She called 911 again and notified officers on scene.

“It sucks he had to lay there and wait for hours to be taken out of that car just broke my heart,” she said of the victim.

Hernandez’s friend told police he believed Hernandez was intoxicated because he could smell alcohol on him when they spoke and he was not acting right, according to the affidavit.

While police were responding to the scene of the accident, they received a phone call from Hernandez’s girlfriend who reported the car stolen, claiming the keys were left in the vehicle, the affidavit states. When officers told her she would need to sign an affidavit, she refused and officers say she became defensive.

An officer then told the girlfriend that the truck she wanted to report stolen was involved in a fatal crash and that DNA evidence would indicate who was driving the vehicle at the time of the crash.

An officer asked the girlfriend if Hernandez’s blood would be on the truck and she looked away, said it would and began to tear up, the affidavit states.

Officers believe Hernandez left the scene of the fatal accident and he now faces a second-degree felony charge of failure to stop and render aid, according to an affidavit.

His bond is set at $75,000.

 

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