An uninsured motorist who allegedly drove off following a collision that left a bicyclist critically injured likely wouldn’t be facing a criminal charge had he remained at the scene, an LAPD traffic investigator said Wednesday.
Javier Saravia was taken into custody at his residence four days after the accident, which occurred about 3 p.m. Dec. 26 in the 3100 block of West 48th Street, the Los Angeles Police Department reported.
Saravia was booked on suspicion of hit-and-run and was freed after posting $100,000 bail.
“The driver of the car failed to stop, failed to identify himself and he failed to render aid to the injured party,” LAPD Officer Kitti Yount of the South Traffic Division said at a news conference at the accident scene this morning.
The cyclist — a man whose name was withheld — was taken to a hospital in critical condition and underwent heart surgery, police said.
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Yount said surveillance footage from a market shows the driver in the store with another person. The pair left with a case of Modelo beer, which the suspect placed in the trunk before getting behind the wheel, police said.
He then drove off on 48th Street and made a sharp turn onto Ninth Avenue, where the vehicle struck the bicyclist, according to the LAPD, which previously released surveillance video in hopes of generating tips.
“Within hours, we received several anonymous tips from citizens who got involved,” Yount said. “I could not have made an arrest as quickly (without the tips). … The community members saw something and they said something.”
She stressed that “it’s not a crime to be involved in a traffic collision.”
“If you leave the scene, that’s what makes it a crime,” Yount said. “If the person is injured, you have to notify 911 or try to give them some kind of assistance.”
She said Saravia told her he left the scene because “he was scared. He was panicked.”
It was unknown if he might have been drunk at the time, she said.
“There’s no way to tell and we’re not looking at that avenue right now,” she said, adding that Saravia is a licensed driver, but he had no insurance.
“Had he not left and he was at the scene … it would just be a traffic collision with severe injuries,” Yount said. “He probably might have gotten cited for no insurance.”
–City News Service