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Driver in fatal hit-and-run said he was scared, police say

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SALT LAKE CITY — A man who police say hit and killed a bicyclist and then drove off told investigators he was scared, police say.

Sotero Valerio, 36, was arrested Wednesday night for investigation of failing to remain at the scene of an accident involving death.

Tot Nguyen, 72, was crossing 400 South near 1033 West on a bicycle Tuesday night when he was struck by an eastbound vehicle. The car continued without stopping, according to Salt Lake police.

Witnesses told officers a white car, possibly a Nissan, was involved. At that point, Salt Lake police detective Robert Ungricht said good work by investigators led to an arrest.

Detectives looked up vehicles that matched the description of the car to find out if any were registered to homes in the area. One potential lead took detectives to a street a few blocks away, where they spotted a white vehicle with front end damage parked in front of a house, Ungricht said.

Investigators knocked on the door and Valerio answered. When they questioned him, he eventually "stated he knew he hit an individual but left the scene because he was scared," according to a Salt Lake County Jail report.

Police said the area where the cyclist was hit was dark and it's unclear whether Nguyen was wearing reflective clothing. Another person who witnessed the crash told investigators he almost hit Nguyen before the other driver hit him.

Ungricht said if Valerio had stayed at the scene, and if he wasn't impaired, he may not have been arrested at all. State law requires motorists to stay on the scene of an accident with injuries until police arrive, Ungricht said.

Valerio has no criminal history in Utah outside of traffic citations, according to state court records.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the team in 2021 after many years of reporting for the Deseret News


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