|Driver in RP crash faces murder charge
Santa Rosa man also faces hit-and-run, gross vehicular manslaughter charges; St. Helena man dies in accident
A murder charge was filed against a Santa Rosa man whose car slammed into a tree, killing a passenger on February 28 in Rohnert Park.
Rafael Prieto-Gonzalez, 23, appeared in court on Tuesday but did not enter a plea to charges that also included gross vehicle manslaughter while intoxicated, reckless driving causing bodily injury and hit and run. Rohnert Park Dept. of Public Safety officials said Prieto-Gonzalez was on probation for a previous DUI and a domestic incident. He remains in custody at Sonoma County Jail. The deceased passenger has been identified as Abel Acosta, 44, of St. Helena.
According to a Rohnert Park Dept. of Public Safety report, at approximately 8 p.m., a male driver was traveling northbound on Commerce Boulevard between Alison and Arlen drives when he lost control of his vehicle and slammed broadside into a tree, killing the passenger.
Two witnesses who reportedly saw the crash said the driver was screaming for help after the collision. As the witnesses tried to assist, according to the report, Prieto-Gonzales was able to flee from the vehicle and hide in a nearby neighborhood.
RPDPS officers then quickly set a perimeter and began searching the area. Eventually, they found a male who appeared to be the driver and had injuries consistent with being in a collision.
Prieto-Gonzalez was suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs at the time of the crash. He was transported to a local hospital for a medical clearance, and he subsequently was booked into Sonoma County Jail.
This case remains under investigation. Anyone with additional information is encouraged to call Officer Jerrod Marshall at (707) 584-2600.