|Hit-and-run suspect surrenders to CHP
Man, 21, dies while walking north of RP
A man suspected of driving the car that killed a man outside Rohnert Park in an apparent hit-and-run surrendered himself to authorities on Monday, July 14, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Santa Rosa’s John Mesker, 33, arrived with his attorney at the CHP office in Rohnert Park around 3 p.m. Mesker, according to the CHP, did not make a statement.
The CHP had been trying to question Mesker about his role in the death of 21-year-old Basilio Nathan Garza Jr. Garza’s body was found on the street just north of Hunter and Snyder Lanes around 4:15 a.m. on Saturday, July 12.
Garza, according to the CHP, is from Novato but was living with friends or relatives in the Santa Rosa area.
The CHP said evidence revealed Garza had been struck by a vehicle traveling in the southbound direction on Petaluma Hill Road.
The CHP then informed the public to be on the lookout for a vehicle with front-end damage consistent with hitting a pedestrian.
A few hours after reporting the death, a Rohnert Park resident alerted authorities to a suspicious vehicle in front of her home on Holly Avenue, which is off Snyder Lane and a few miles away from where the death occurred.
CHP Sgt. Ross Ingles said the vehicle, a Toyota sedan, has been impounded as evidence. The Toyota was registered to a relative of Mesker, but the CHP believes it was he who was driving it.
As of Sunday, CHP officers had made no contact with Mesker but believed he was still in the area. Initial reports placed Garza walking on Petaluma Hill Road after getting into an argument earlier with friends with whom he’d been riding.
Mesker, according to the CHP, was driving on a suspended license. Court records show Mesker was busted twice in the past three months and was convicted of felony possession of a stun gun when arrested by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office on April 5.
He also was arrested by the Sonoma Police Dept. on suspicion of driving under the influence, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and giving false registration.
He’ll be tried on those charges on Aug. 8 in Sonoma County Superior Court.
The CHP has yet to determine if Mesker or Garza were under the influence of alcohol or an illegal substance at the time of the accident.