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Man injured in hit-and-run dies; arrest made in separate accident

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SALT LAKE CITY — A man injured in a hit-and-run accident Monday evening has died from his injuries, according to Salt Lake City police.

Genaro Zaragoza-Valencia, 73, was hit by a vehicle just before 7 p.m. Monday while walking home from a 7-Eleven store at 1690 S. 900 West. Zaragoza-Valencia died Tuesday afternoon as a result of the injuries, according to Salt Lake City police.

Zaragoza-Valencia was wearing dark clothing and crossing the street outside of a crosswalk in an unlit area. The collision carried him 75 feet before he dropped off the hood, according to police.

Tevita Afu, the neighbor of Zaragoza-Valencia, witnessed the accident.

"I looked down the street and I see the guy," Afu said. "He's pretty much like flying along the car when the car hit him. He just gassed it and took off, went down 17th (street). Yes, there was no stopping him. I was scared for the guy. I knew when I saw him fly — I knew it wasn't going to be a good turnout."

The driver then drove away from the scene. Officers are looking for a silver 2002-2003 BMW 3 Series, 2-door coupe or convertible. The Salt Lake Police Department asked the public to call 801-799-3000 with information.

Salt Lake Police Sgt. Robin Heiden said investigators have collected evidence from the scene and are confident they will find the driver responsible.

"The minute you leave, that becomes your responsibility. Per the law, you have to stop and render aid or report it to police if nothing else," Heiden said.

As investigators continued Tuesday to search for a driver in a hit-and-run accident that critically injured a man Monday night, detectives in a separate fatal hit-and-run case made a second arrest.

A woman who allegedly hit and killed a 2-year-old nearly six months ago and then fled was arrested Sunday. Police arrested her father on Tuesday, saying he learned that she had hit the child but never reported it.

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Being involved in an auto-pedestrian accident is understandably scary for the driver. But by fleeing from the scene, the criminal charges that could follow once the driver is caught are far worse than if the driver had stayed at the scene and waited for emergency crews to arrive, Heiden said.

Because of the circumstances in Monday night's accident, Heiden said the driver who fled — assuming they were not intoxicated — likely would not have been charged with a crime if that person had stayed.

"So in a situation like that, if you were to obey the law and stop and render aid like you're supposed to, this person would probably be looking at no charges. Nothing," Heiden said. "But now, it's going to be a felony."

Meanwhile, West Valley police arrested the father of Kimberly Munoz, 21. She is accused of hitting and killing 2-year-old Gavyn Barnett in a stroller in June and then driving away from the scene.

Rodolfo Damian Munoz, 54, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of obstruction of justice and giving false statements to police. Detectives had learned through two sources that Munoz knew about his daughter's fatal accident, said West Valley Police Sgt. Jason Hauer. But even after interviewing him, police say he denied having any knowledge of the incident.

So in a situation like that, if you were to obey the law and stop and render aid like you're supposed to, this person would probably be looking at no charges. Nothing. But now, it's going to be a felony.

–Salt Lake Police Sgt. Robin Heiden

Angela Barnett was pushing her young son in a stroller on June 10 on her way home from a store about 9:45 p.m. They were crossing 5600 West near 4005 South when a car hit the stroller, killing the 2-year-old.

After the case had seemingly gone cold for investigators, the ex-boyfriend of Kimberly Munoz turned in his former girlfriend to police. Munoz was arrested Sunday for investigation of hit-and-run and improper lookout.

Hauer said detectives have information that Munoz's mother also knew about the accident. She has been cooperating with investigators, however, and was not arrested Monday, he said. Charges could still be considered, however, against the mother and former boyfriend, depending on how long they knew or suspected that Kimberley Munoz was involved in the fatal accident and didn't tell authorities.

"What she did was wrong, and she knows it," Angela Barnett said Monday, reacting to the news of Munoz's arrest.

Barnett said the past six months have been hard on her family. She said she was speechless when she was told about the break in the case.

"I really didn't have any words to say, because all I could do was like, crying, crying, crying, and I was shaking like crazy," she said.

Monday night's accident was the latest in a recent string of serious auto-pedestrian crashes.

• Linda Olson, 64, of Millcreek, was killed Monday when she was hit by a utility truck while crossing 3300 South near 3000 East about 6 p.m. She was in a crosswalk when she was hit. The driver in that incident stopped.

• In Pleasant View, Eric James Johannes, 46, of Ogden, was hit and killed while crossing 2700 North at 500 West about 9:15 p.m. Saturday.

Johannes, who police say had been drinking, was attempting to cross a very busy street in the dark and not in a crosswalk. The 25-year-old driver stopped after the accident. Police say their investigation is ongoing, but they did not expect charges to be filed against the driver.

Contributing: Sandra Yi


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