Charges were formally filed on Monday against the driver responsible for killing a bicyclist on his way to work Saturday, June 22.
Officers arrested Brandon Gonzales, a 22-year-old Mishawaka resident and U.S. Army veteran, less than an hour after the early morning crash that left Timothy Grant, 54, of Mishawaka, dead. Gonzales fled the scene in his gray Dodge Charger before police arrived.
Gonzales appeared in court via video conference on Monday and was arraigned on three felony charges. Although he wasn't physically present in the courtroom, roughly 30 of Gonzales' friends and family were there. All of them declined to comment on the situation.
St. Joseph County Police were called to Jefferson Rd., between Buckeye Rd. and Birch Rd., just before 5:30 a.m. When they arrived they found the crashed Dodge Charger facing west, parked on the roadway. Officers were informed shortly thereafter that there was a fatal hit and run just east of their location, and a witness tied the Dodge Charger to that crash.
Grant was wearing a helmet and had a red flashing light on his bike as he rode to work that morning. No evidence was found to show that Gonzales stopped after hitting Grant or even tried to get help.
According to St. Joseph County Police spokesman Lt. Matt Blank, Gonzales fled north onto Buckeye Rd. after hitting Grant and struck a parked car in 56100 block. His car then spun out into several front yards before turning southbound on Buckeye Rd. and then back onto Jefferson Rd.
Eyewitnesses later reported seeing Gonzales crash his car into the curb outside his family's home at 2044 E. Jefferson Blvd. in Mishawaka - about four miles from the crash site.
Gonzales eventually left his home and approached police outside--wearing pajama bottoms but no shirt or shoes. Officers said he was slurring his speech and they could smell alcohol on his breath. Gonzales was asked to perform several field sobriety tests and failed all but one. A Drug Recognition Expert determined Gonzales was intoxicated and a sample of Gonzales' blood was sent for testing.
The St. Joseph County Police Dept. and the Fatal Alcohol Crash Team (FACT) shut down Jefferson Rd., between Buckeye Rd. and Birch Rd., for six hours as investigators processed the scene and collected evidence. The busy two lane roadway re-opened to traffic around 12 p.m.
FACT examined the crashed Charger and found blood and tissue on the hood and other parts of the car. Evidence consistent with a body smashing into the windshield and denting the roof was also found.
Investigators found that the car's airbag deployed and what officers say "appears" to be blood was found in the inside the car as well. A probable cause affidavit filed this weekend noted that packaging for beer was found "in plain view" on the passenger side floorboard.
The St. Joseph County Prosecutor's Office quickly charged Gonzales with OWI Causing Death, Failure to Stop at the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Death, both Class C felonies, and a Class B felony of Leaving the Scene of an Accident After Operating While Intoxicated Causing Death.
Gonzales is being held at the St. Joseph County Jail on a $50,000 corporate surety bond or $5,000 cash.
St. Joseph County Jail records indicate this isn't Gonzales' first run in with the law. In June 2009, South Bend Police arrested him for resisting arrest, public intoxication, minor consuming and false informing. To review the police report, click on the second document icon listed below this story.
Unfortunately this isn't the first fatal bicycle accident in our area over the last year.
On Wednesday July 19, Daniel Yoder, 26, of Millersburg was killed when an oncoming car crossed the center line and crashed head-on into his bicycle in western Elkhart County.
Then back on Thursday Oct. 18, international student Ziqi Zhang died after he bike collided with a car on SR 933 just off of the Saint Mary's campus. Police say that Zhang was riding without a helmet and wearing dark clothing at the time of the crash.