GREENFIELD — The driver, scraped and bloodied from the accident, leaned over his injured passenger, checking to see if he was OK, before fleeing the site of the crash, police said.
Witnesses told investigators what they watched unfold June 24, when an Indianapolis man ran from the scene of a wreck he caused that killed his friend and left another man badly injured, police said.
Rene Jacobo Justo, 23, 6302 Legend Lane, ran a stop sign near the Hancock-Marion county line that day and caused a serious car accident, then fled before police arrived, court documents state.
The accident left one Indianapolis man dead and another in serious condition, officials said. Miguel Chiquito Utrera, 20, died a day after the crash from the injuries he sustained after being thrown from Jacobo Justo’s car; Kenneth Campo, 59, had to be put in a medically-induced coma to help his body heal, and he is still recovering at an area hospital.
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Jacobo Justo now faces a pair of felonies and a misdemeanor that accuse him of illegally leaving the scene of an accident and driving without a driver’s license. He appeared Monday in Hancock County Superior Court 1, where he pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The crash happened at the intersection of county roads 350N and 800W (42nd Street and Carroll Road in Indianapolis), police say.
Witnesses told investigators they saw a white Nissan sedan speeding eastbound along County Road 350N, traveling at least 75 miles per hour, according to court documents.
The car was moving too quickly to stop at the intersection and ran through a stop sign posted along County Road 350N, court documents state. The car crossed into the path of a Dodge minivan that was heading north on County Road 800W, and the two vehicles collided, careening off the roadway into a nearby yard, court documents state.
Chiquito Utrera, a passenger in the Nissan, was ejected from the car on impact, officials said. First-responders found him lying in the middle of the roadway. He’d suffered serious injuries and was rushed to Methodist Hospital, according to court documents.
He died there the next day, police said.
Campo, the driver of the minivan, was rushed to Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital with serious injuries, including head trauma, fractured ribs and a collapsed lung, court documents state. He is still recovering, police say.
Witnesses told police they saw another man at the scene of the crash, but he ran from the scene as first-responders arrived, despite appearing to be injured. The man appeared to have checked on Chiquito Utrera, who was unconscious at the time, before fleeing the area.
Lawrence and Indianapolis Metropolitan police departments handled the initial crash investigation; and officers from both agencies and the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department began searching for the man witnesses reported seeing run from the crash site.
Investigators searched Chiquito Utrera’s apartment and discovered information that revealed Jacobo Justo was his roommate. A neighbor told police he saw Jacobo Justo at the apartment the day after the wreck; his clothes were bloody, and he appeared to be hurt, the neighbor said, according to court documents.
Police found relatives of Jacobo Justo’s living in an apartment complex near Lawrence, court documents state. When questioned, they told police Jacobo Justo was the one driving the car, and that he had borrowed the Nissan sedan from his mother, court documents state.
Relatives told police Jacobo Justo was staying in an apartment on the northwest side of Indianapolis. Investigators found him there on June 26, and he agreed to be interviewed by officers, court documents state.
Jacobo Justo admitted he pulled out in front of the minivan and caused the accident, according to documents. He told police he was only driving about 45 miles per hour at the time of the crash, and he said he stopped at the stop sign before pulling into the intersection, court documents state.
State records revealed Jacobo Justo was never issued a driver’s license, police said.
Officers arrested Jacobo Justo, and he was booked into the Hancock County Jail last week.
He faces: one Level 5 felony count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death; one Level 6 felony count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in serious bodily injury; and one Class C misdemeanor of knowingly operating a motor vehicle without ever receiving a license, according to court records.
During Monday’s hearing, Hancock County Court Commissioner Scott Sirk assigned the defendant a $10,000 cash bond at the prosecutor’s request. The amount is more than twice what is traditionally assigned to defendants facing a Level 5 felony, officials said.
Jacobo Justo returns to court for a hearing at 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 6.