HEMET — A man who was chased down by a retired military veteran and photographed after he was allegedly involved in a hit and run traffic collision Tuesday June 20, turned himself in to authorities Friday afternoon, June 23.
Bowing to increasing pressure from family and friends after Hemet police officials released photographs of the alleged hit and run suspect via social media, the man – identified as Ricardo Hernandez, 35, of Hemet – walked into Hemet PD and “voluntarily” turned himself in to authorities three days after the injury hit and run crash.
“Hernandez provided a statement to investigators, admitted he was involved in the collision and admitted he left the scene,” a Hemet PD official wrote after Hernandez’ arrest.
Hernandez was arrested and was booked into Riverside County Jail on suspicion of felony hit and run resulting in injuries. His bail was set at $10,000, according to the official.
“What else could he do?” a friend of Hernandez’, who requested not to be named, angrily commented after her friend’s arrest, “With his face plastered all over the Internet, there was nothing else he could do! You f—ing people are ruining Ricardo’s life and make making him miserable.”
When asked for clarification of “you people”, Hernandez’ friend responded, “All you f—ing Internet trolls with nothing better to do than sit around staring at your computer screens all f—ing day long.”
The incident began about 1:45 p.m., when police responded to reports of a hit and run traffic collision near the intersection of Acacia and Lyon Avenues in Hemet.
Callers told dispatchers and investigating officers that a newer-model, black Camaro, later determined to have been driven by Hernandez, rear-ended a Volkswagen Beetle.
“Immediately following the collision the driver of the Camaro fled the scene,” Hemet Police Sgt. Dan Reinbolt explained in a written press release after the incident.
Although both occupants from the VW were injured, when Hernandez reportedly fled the scene of the crash, the driver of the VW – a military veteran who lives in Riverside – ran after the suspect on foot.
When Hernandez became stuck in “heavy traffic,” the vet managed to catch up to the fleeing vehicle and snap several photos of the alleged suspect and his car, which he later provided to law enforcement officials investigating the crash.
Hemet PD issued a press release via social media asking for help from the community with identifying and locating the suspect. The press release included several photos of Hernandez and his car.
By the very next day, investigators obtained a lead from a patrol officer who recalled the suspect – and his “distinctive haircut” – from a previous contact during an “unrelated incident,” said the official.
Although investigators had the name of the alleged suspect and were actively looking for him, officials were not able to locate the man; leading to their releasing his photographs on social media.
After seeing his photographs plastered across the Internet and on numerous Hemet and San Jacinto-based Facebook newsgroup sites, Hernandez turned himself in at the Hemet Police station Friday, about 4:30 p.m.
In response to Hemet PD’s use of social media to spread the word about the hit and run and Hernandez’ images, area resident Cheryl Karwacky-Richards said, “It’s good to know the police are on top of info on social media like this.”
Eugenia “Jennie” Schaefer of San Jacinto agreed, saying, “The Internet and (social media) are such a powerful tool nowadays, it wouldn’t make sense if cops didn’t use it to track down and locate suspects and solve crimes.”
Law enforcement agencies around the country are quickly learning the power of social media, with ever-increasing numbers of departments turning to sites such as Facebook and Twitter as an effective means of getting out information about active incidents, major crimes and ongoing investigations.
Several attempts were made to contact Hernandez; however, as of this report he had not responded to requests for information about the incident.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org
Trevor Montgomery runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News and Anza Valley Outlook and also writes for Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg and breaking his back in an off-duty accident.
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 26 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 12 – soon to be 13 – grandchildren.