ST. GEORGE — Police have arrested a man believed to be responsible for a fatal hit-and-run incident in St. George Saturday that took the life of a 53-year-old woman.
The suspect, later identified as Arturo Morales Garcia, who will turn 37 in two days, was arrested in St. George at 10:20 p.m. Tuesday, St. George Police Public Information Officer said in a video posted on the department’s Facebook page.
Garcia’s arrest stems from an incident in which Bettina Abraham, of St. George, was found dead on the side of the road near 650 N. Dixie Drive, just south of the Biolife facility, after apparently being struck by a vehicle, according to police. She was found by two passersby who contacted police.
Officers, emergency personnel and an accident-reconstruction team were called out, as was the investigations unit to process the scene.
Detectives were able to locate Garcia after processing evidence obtained at the scene and speaking to witnesses who provided a possible make and model of the vehicle Garcia was allegedly driving on the night of the incident.
Investigators were able to determine that the vehicle that struck Abraham was a 2005 Ford Freestar, according to a probable cause statement filed in connection with Garcia’s arrest. Following a records check, police were able to locate the vehicle and identify Garcia as a possible suspect.
A search warrant was obtained to search Garcia’s car, which was recovered at his St. George residence. After an examination of the vehicle, officers determined it was the vehicle involved in the fatal incident.
Officers also learned Garcia was an alcohol restricted driver with a suspended Utah driver’s license.
When questioned by police, Garcia allegedly admitted he was driving the Ford Freestar Saturday evening when he struck Abraham, who Garcia said “had been in the roadway,” according to the statement.
Garcia told police he was aware the victim was most likely injured during impact, but admitted he did not stop or render aid for fear he would be arrested, the report states, noting that he drove to his residence immediately after the incident instead.
Garcia admitted to police he should have stopped to help the victim, but failed to do so, the report states. He also said he was aware he should have reported the incident to police, but made no attempt to contact authorities and, instead, took steps to conceal any evidence of damage to the vehicle.
Additionally, Garcia allegedly told police that he was aware his license was suspended, that he was an alcohol restricted driver, which prohibited him from having any alcohol in his system, and that he was required to have an interlock device on the vehicle, which he did not have.
He also admitted to police that prior to the hit-and-run incident, he consumed at least four beers and another alcoholic beverage at a restaurant before getting into his car and hitting Abraham on North Dixie Drive a short time later, the report states.
“The damage to the vehicle and injuries to the victim are consistent with a significant vehicle impact which caused the victim’s death,” Detective Terry Taylor said in the probable cause statement.
Officers responded to notify Abraham’s family that an arrest had been made late Tuesday evening, Trombley said in a statement.
“Our accident reconstruction team, our investigations unit have worked tirelessly since the incident to locate the suspect and bring closure to the family, to the victim and to the community as a whole,” Trombley said.
Garcia was booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility on a third-degree felony count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, along with three class B misdemeanors for driving on a suspended/revoked license, operating a vehicle without an interlock device and alcohol restricted driver.
Garcia remains in jail on $7,040 bail pending trial.
This report is based on statements from police or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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