Crime

Driver allegedly fled a hit-and-run crash on Hwy. 101 — but he left his ID behind

The California Highway Patrol is searching for a Creston man who allegedly side-swiped another driver in Atascadero, sending him careening off Highway 101, through a fence and into a restaurant parking lot.

The victim suffered moderate injuries in the Wednesday collision.

The suspect left his vehicle and took off running, but he left his ID and personal belongings behind.

At about 9 a.m., Richard Jennings, 48, of Atascadero was driving his Toyota Tacoma north on Highway 101 at a speed of 50 mph, when he prepared to exit the highway at Traffic Way, according to a CHP Templeton news release.

A white Ford F-150 allegedly made an unsafe lane change and struck the right side of the Tacoma, sending it veering out of control off the freeway.

The Tacoma broke through a perimeter fence, struck a large oak tree and came to rest in the Denny’s parking lot on El Camino Real in Atascadero.

Jennings sustained moderate injuries and was taken to Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton for treatment.

Witnesses said the driver of the F-150 then pulled over on the Traffic Way off-ramp and exited the pickup, according to the news release.

He allegedly took the vehicle’s paperwork out of the glove box and dashed off the freeway and over a perimeter fence toward El Camino Real.

But he left his ID, laptop and items with his full name, date of birth and address in the pickup, which was impounded for evidence.

Now, the CHP is looking for Richard Lawrence Gonzalez, 39, of Creston, who investigators believe was driving the F-150. He is described as a white man about 40 years old and approximately 200 pounds wearing dark clothing.

Anyone who knows Gonzalez’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Templeton CHP office by calling 805-593-3333.

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