RIVERSIDE – A man who fled the scene of a crash at a Riverside intersection, which killed a 19-year-old woman, pleaded guilty today to manslaughter and hit-and-run charges.
Erasto Gomez, 59, was scheduled to undergo a preliminary hearing — a proceeding that determines whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial– when he entered his guilty pleas to a felony hit-and-run count, plus misdemeanor counts of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence and driving on a suspended license.
He is slated to be sentenced Aug. 16.
The Dec. 9 collision that killed Linda Rodriguez of Moreno Valley occurred about 5:50 a.m. at the intersection of Magnolia Avenue and Tyler Street.
According to Riverside police Sgt. Ben Shafer, Rodriguez was headed west on Magnolia in her Nissan Sentra, on a green light, when Gomez ran a red light on Tyler and his southbound 2001 Dodge Ram van broadsided her car.
The impact to the passenger side of the Nissan propelled it into an electrical pole and water control valve in the center median, according to Shafer. The valve was sheared off, creating a geyser of water over the car.
Rodriguez was pronounced dead at the scene. Her friends said she had been on her way to work.
Gomez, who was not injured, took off but was briefly tailed by a good Samaritan, who jotted down the van’s license number before losing sight of the vehicle in the area of Indiana Avenue and Van Buren Boulevard.
According to Riverside police Officer Ryan Railsback, Gomez was located about seven hours later, after the witness supplied investigators with the van’s plate number.