Crime

Creston man lied about hit-and-run on Hwy. 101, CHP says. Now he faces 2 more charges

A Creston man who told the CHP that someone stole his truck before it was involved in a hit-and-run has been arrested on suspicion of both the felony crash and the apparent tall tale that followed it.

On April 3, Richard Gonzalez, 39, allegedly made an unsafe lane change on Highway 101 while driving north in his Ford F-150 near the Atascadero Traffic Way exit, striking a Toyota Tacoma, according to the CHP.

The Tacoma then veered out of control off the freeway, crashed through a fence and hit a tree near the Denny’s restaurant, sending the driver to the hospital with moderate injuries.

After the crash, Gonzalez allegedly grabbed his vehicle paperwork from the glove box and took off running toward Atascadero, leaving his laptop, ID and other items behind.

The CHP requested information about Gonzalez’s whereabouts, and he later turned himself into authorities.

However, he claimed his pickup had been stolen prior to the incident and said he was not the driver involved in the crash.

Following a three-week investigation, the CHP determined Gonzalez was the driver involved in the crash. Officers advised Gonzalez of the investigative findings and his fabricated alibi and gave him an opportunity to turn himself into authorities, according to a news release.

Gonzalez was seen on Friday morning walking on Santa Lucia Road south of Traffic Way in Atascadero, and a CHP officer took him into custody.

He was arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run, as well as giving false information to a peace officer and filing a false police report.

Gonzalez is being held at San Luis Obispo County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail, as of Friday afternoon.

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Lindsey Holden writes about housing, North County communities and everything in between for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. She became a staff writer in 2016 after working for the Rockford Register Star in Illinois. Lindsey is a native Californian raised in the Midwest and earned degrees from DePaul and Northwestern universities.
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