Witnesses Help Thwart Driver Who Fled Hwy 49 Accident Scene
San Andreas, CA – CHP officials say a hit-and-run driver snagged by police is providing a cautionary tale.
According to CHP San Andreas Unit spokesperson Officer Toby Butzler, the arrest of 25-year-old Ashonti Thomas of Yorba Linda followed shortly after a two-vehicle collision just after 6:30 Wednesday morning along Highway 49 north of Howell Road. Thomas was driving a 2019 Dodge Ram.
“Both vehicles were driving north and Mr. Thomas decided to pass over double-yellow lines around Ms. [Sheanna] Casillas,” Butzler recounts. Casillas, 35, a resident of Valley Springs, was driving a 2016 Acura. “Unfortunately, when he did this there was oncoming traffic that had to swerve to the right — and it appears that he also swerved to the right and in doing so hit her vehicle, causing a decent amount of damage.”
As required by law, Casillas pulled over to the shoulder so the two could exchange information, but according to the officer, Thomas stopped briefly just north of her, then decided to flee the scene and continued north.
“Thankfully, we had some good witnesses who not only noticed the collision but his vehicle fleeing the scene so they immediately contacted 911,” Butzler continues. “An alert Angels Camp PD officer shortly thereafter made a traffic stop on it within the city limits of Angels Camp.” After witnesses and the driver hit were able to positively identify Thomas, he was arrested.
While Thomas was booked under the misdemeanor section for hit-and-run, Butzler says it will be up to the District Attorney’s Office after reviewing the incident to determine whether enough damage and/or injuries were sustained for the charges to receive a felony-level upgrade.
Butzler advises all drivers to do the right thing following a collision. “The law requires whenever you are involved in a traffic collision when there is any damage received by any other party…to stop, make contact with that party and either exchange information or contact law enforcement.”
Even if you damage someone’s fence in the middle of the night, he says you have to leave your information AND contact police to let them know that you left that information. “Around here with a lot of fences we get a lot of those types of collisions where people leave the scene and hope they don’t get caught,” Butzler acknowledges. However, with more security cameras around these days, it is easier to track down culprits.
Hit-and-run charges, whether misdemeanor or felony have the ability to have significant negative impacts. “I know it can affect their driver’s license and the privilege to drive…and there is always is potential for fines, jail time and restitution to the victim as well,” Butzler warns.