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Suspect in hit-run deaths turns himself in to officers

first_imgVALENCIA – A Salinas man accused of causing a Thanksgiving Day crash near Gorman that killed a father and son turned himself in to the California Highway Patrol on Monday and was booked on suspicion of two felony hit-and-run counts and two manslaughter counts. Javier Barajas Zavala, 41, had contacted authorities Thursday through his attorney to express a desire to surrender, CHP officials said. He arrived Monday morning at the Newhall CHP office and was transported to the Santa Clarita sheriff’s station for booking. “We received a letter from his attorney instructing us not to question him,” Officer Wendy Hahn said. “When he arrived, we gave him his Miranda rights and asked him if he wanted to talk to us, and he said no.” Investigators believe Zavala was driving a 1999 Peterbilt big-rig that slammed into the back of a 1990 pickup truck stalled in traffic lanes of the northbound Interstate 5 near Gorman. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals The crash killed Jose Palomino and his 15-year-old son, Julio, both of Bell Gardens. The men were headed toward Bakersfield because Palomino was planning to move his family there. After the collision, Zavala allegedly drove farther to flee from authorities, turned off at the northbound state Route 138 off-ramp and ended up on Lancaster Road. The tractor-trailer’s fuel tank apparently ruptured in the collision, causing the cab to catch fire after the driver left the freeway. CHP Investigator Dave Pokorny said that witnesses who spoke to the driver when he stopped the burning truck were concerned that he was trying to get a ride out of the area while his truck was ablaze. The witnesses had no knowledge of the earlier fatal collision. About 20 minutes after the crash, police got a call from a man, possibly Zavala, who claimed his tractor-trailer had been stolen from a Pilot station in Castaic. When they arrived, the man was nowhere to be found. Pokorny said that Zavala evaded capture despite ground and air searches. “He would have been in a lot less trouble if he had waited at the scene,” Pokorny said. “This could have been just a horrible accident.” Each charge that Zavala faces carries a possible sentence of 30 years in state prison. Bail was set at $50,000. Pokorny said a bail bondsman arrived with Zavala when he turned himself in. Zavala has no prior criminal record. Carol Rock, (661) 257-5252 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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