Creston man’s ID was found in truck involved in a hit-and-run — but he says it wasn’t him

A man initially sought as a suspect in an alleged hit-and-run in Atascadero on Wednesday says his truck was stolen before the incident.

The California Highway Patrol said it was searching for Richard Lawrence Gonzalez, 39, of Creston, on Wednesday, after a white Ford F-150 allegedly made an unsafe lane change on Highway 101 near Traffic Way, striking another vehicle.

The driver of the other vehicle, Richard Jennings, 48, of Atascadero, was moderately injured in the collision, which sent him veering off the highway, through a fence into a tree in the Denny’s parking lot.

According to the CHP, the driver of the truck pulled over on the Traffic Way off-ramp, exited the pickup and fled the scene. He allegedly took the vehicle’s paperwork out of the glove box before hopping a perimeter fence toward El Camino Real.

An ID, laptop and items with Gonzalez’s full name, date of birth and address were still in the pickup, leading investigators to believe he was the driver. CHP asked for the public’s help in locating Gonzalez.

In a news release on Friday, CHP says Gonzalez turned himself into authorities Wednesday evening.

According to CHP spokesman Patrick Seebart, Gonzalez reported that his pickup truck had been stolen before the incident and completed a stolen vehicle report. Gonzalez told authorities the wanted driver was not him.

“The entire collision and stolen vehicle portion are being investigated,” Seebart wrote in an email to media outlets.

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