Wednesday, August 25, 1999
Suspect in Hit-Run Turns Himself In
Police said Isidro Calderon Hernandez, 26, a disabled welder, was driving the white 1991 Honda that struck and killed John Lee LaBord, 18, of Anaheim on Sunday evening. Hernandez allegedly sped away with the body jammed into the car's smashed windshield.
Hernandez's family said he spent most of Sunday at a Jehovah's Witness picnic at an Anaheim park, then dined at his parents' house before leaving for home about 9 p.m., complaining of a headache and tiredness.
Lilia Calderon, the suspect's mother, said he has suffered from recurring headaches since he fell off a scaffold two years ago and injured his head.
"He was in a coma for three days," Calderon said. "He also broke three ribs and injured a lung. He's suffered terrible headaches since that day and has taken medication on and off."
Less than three hours after leaving his parents' house, police said, Hernandez struck LaBord as the teenager walked his bicycle along East Orangewood Avenue near Rampart Street.
Authorities say that Hernandez drove about 13 miles before dumping the body on the median of an undeveloped stretch of the Portola Hills Parkway, near the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.
"It's hard to imagine that someone could have driven a car like that and not be noticed," Anaheim Police Sgt. Joe Vargas said, adding that Hernandez might have had to stick his head out the driver's window to see the road.
Vargas said Hernandez also is a suspect in a May 22 hit-and-run incident in which another bicyclist was injured on Lorena Street.
Details of that incident were sketchy, but Vargas said that victim "flew over the hood" of the car but suffered only minor scrapes. Vargas said the license number of that car, as reported by witnesses, was registered to Hernandez.
Police said that after the May 22 accident they sent Hernandez a letter--which they described as routine in such incidents--asking him to contact investigators.
Hernandez never responded, they said, and it is not clear what, if anything, happened then.
Hernandez was injured in a 1995 accident in which his car was struck by a drunk driver, police said.
On Tuesday, Hernandez was taken into custody after he went to the office of Alfred Real, a Santa Ana lawyer who had represented him in a 1997 workers' compensation case after the fall from a scaffold.
Real said Anaheim detectives called him Tuesday morning and asked him to tell Hernandez they wanted to talk to him. When Hernandez arrived at the office, Real called detectives.
Police focused on Hernandez late Monday after an anonymous tip brought them to his apartment complex on West Commonwealth Avenue about 10:30 p.m. Vargas said police missed Hernandez by about 10 minutes that night, and were told by a witness that Hernandez might have left with another man.
Neighbors said that they first noticed Hernandez's damaged car Monday morning and that it was covered by a blue blanket. They said they saw him emerge from beneath the blanket with cleaning supplies, and one of the neighbors who had seen reports of the Anaheim hit-and-run eventually called police.
"There was severe damage to the front hood and the windshield and the roof of the car," said a neighbor who declined to be identified. "My girlfriend asked him how it happened and where. He said it happened in Anaheim and didn't say anything more."
Times correspondents Louise Roug and Jason Kandel contributed to this story.
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