On August 12, at approximately 10:58 p.m., Santa Rosa CHP officers were dispatched to a traffic collision on northbound US-101, south of Bicentennial Way. It was reported that an SUV and a motorcycle were involved in the crash and the driver of the SUV was running from the scene. Sonoma County Sheriff, Helicopter Henry 1, was overhead within minutes and followed the fleeing driver to the Shell Gas Station on Steele Lane, where he was subsequently detained by Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputies.
Preliminary investigation indicates Juan Padilla-Lopez, 33, Santa Rosa, was driving an Infiniti SUV northbound on US-101 in the middle lane. Padilla-Lopez rear ended Andre Russell, 72, Windsor, who was driving a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Russell was able to keep the bike upright until both vehicles came to a stop in the middle lane more than 250 feet later. Padilla-Lopez and his male passenger exited the Infiniti and attempted to flee the scene.
Mercedes Allende, 18, Ukiah, was driving a Toyota Landcruiser northbound US-101 near Steele Lane when she observed the collision ahead. Allende swerved to the right to avoid the Infiniti but was unable to avoid the collision. The Toyota struck the right rear of the Infiniti and then struck the passenger. The impact resulted in the passenger sustaining fatal injuries.
CHP arrested Padilla-Lopez on two felony charges of driving under the influence and hit and run. US-101 northbound was closed until 3:00am while the scene was investigated.