A Solana Beach man accused of running off after fatally striking a victim changing his flat tire on a freeway shoulder will be held on $125,000 bail, a judge ordered Friday.
Christopher Ramirez Reyes pleaded not guilty to hit-and-run causing death during first court appearance. He is suspected of killing Raymart Agsalon Martos on the side of Interstate 5 Tuesday morning.
Martos, who had just celebrated his 21st birthday the week before, was driving near the Mile of Cars in Chula Vista when his Honda Civic got a flat tire. He pulled over the center median, but as he bent down to change the right front tire, he was hit by a Dodge Stratus, allegedly driven by Reyes.
The suspect then ran into the center median, got out of the car and called 911, according to San Diego Deputy District Attorney Christopher Chandler.
Reyes told the dispatcher he had been in an accident and gave his name and number. However, Chandler said Reyes and his passenger then ran off on foot. He walked all the way across the border into Mexico, where his family lives.
"In this case, the defendant didn't make any efforts to stop and stay to render aid, to call an ambulance, to get him help,” said Chandler. “We don't know exactly at this point how long the victim lay on the freeway with those injuries, so it's a terrible tragedy all around.”
Reyes’ father, Sergio Carlos Reyes, told NBC 7 on Friday that his son was on his way to work when the crash happened. Reyes is a construction worker who has no family in the U.S.
Sergio said the morning of the accident, Reyes did not know what to do, so in a moment of panic, fled to his parents’ Tijuana home.
According to Sergio, he and his wife told Reyes he needed to turn himself over to authorities because it was the right thing to do. Sergio said they could have taken him to Mexico City, where more family lives, but Reyes decided to turn himself in.
U.S. investigators, using the number Reyes left with the 911 dispatcher, contacted the suspect and negotiated a time and place to take him into custody.
Sergio offered his condolences for Martos family. Because he and his wife cannot cross into the U.S., they did not appear in court with Reyes.
Standard bail for a hit-and-run causing death is $100,000, but the prosecutor argued the bail should be set at $150,000 because Reyes presents a flight risk with his access to family in Mexico.
However, the judge said Reyes has no criminal history and eventually turned himself in, so she decided to set bail in the middle, at $125,000.
Reyes is scheduled to make his next court appearance on Dec. 29. He faces four years in prison if convicted.