Police found the driver they think was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident on New Bern Avenue last month after an anonymous tip alerted them to the man’s pickup truck, according to a search warrant made public this week.
Police say Mateo Palacio Guzman was driving a 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche that ran a red light at the intersection of New Bern and Trawick Road just before 12:30 a.m. on Nov. 1. The pickup collided with a 1998 Honda Accord that was carrying four people.
The collision killed two of the Honda’s backseat passengers, Naomi Kristina Mercury, 18, and Brittany Catherine Williams, 24.
The Avalanche struck a curb on westbound New Bern Avenue and drove off, Senior Officer P.G. Manukas wrote in the search warrant application. Witnesses told police the truck accelerated at a high rate of speed and that the driver clicked off the headlights. The Avalanche was last seen passing Brentwood Road at about 90 mph, according to the warrant application.
At 6:16 that evening, an anonymous caller told police that the Avalanche was “in the area of Lord Anson Drive and Poole Road,” Manukas stated. Officers found the badly damaged pickup with both of its airbags deployed. A man sitting in the driver’s seat of the truck was trying to back it onto a vehicle trailer, Manukas wrote.
Guzman was charged with two felony counts of hit-and-run causing serious injury or death and one misdemeanor count of death by motor vehicle. Federal immigration officials also placed a detainer on Guzman because they think he is in this country illegally.
Guzman, a native of Mexico, was carrying what appeared to be a forged green card immigration document with a false name, police said after his arrest.
Investigators seized a computer from the home where Guzman lived on Poole Road, his mobile phone, paint scrapings from the bumper of the Avalanche and the vehicle’s airbags and event data recorder, court records show.