ORANGE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY PRESS RELEASE
Case # 14NF5122
Date: July 22, 2015
FULLERTON, Calif. – A driver was sentenced today to three years in state prison for killing a bicyclist and fleeing to Mexico to repair his vehicle. Junior Rigoberto Lopez, 31, Buena Park, pleaded guilty April 16, 2015, to one felony count of hit and run with death.
At approximately 9:00 p.m. on Nov. 1, 2014, Lopez was driving his Ford F-150 pick-up truck traveling northbound on Magnolia Street in Anaheim. He approached the intersection of Magnolia Street and La Palma Avenue when he crashed into 44-year-old Daniela Palacios, who was riding her bicycle. Instead of stopping to assist the victim or calling 911, Lopez failed to remain at the scene or render any aid to the victim and fled the scene. The defendant sustained damage to his pick-up truck consistent with colliding with a person riding a bicycle. The Anaheim Police Department (APD), who investigated this case, also found broken pieces of a front grill and headlights at the scene of the crash.
The victim was transported to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center to be treated for broken ribs, a broken right clavicle, head trauma, left lung filled with blood, and internal bleeding. The victim died hours later at the hospital while being treated for her injuries sustained in the crash.
After the crash, the defendant drove to Mexico to have his pick-up truck repaired. On Dec. 11, 2014, the defendant returned to Mexico to retrieve his repaired truck.
On Dec. 15, 2015, APD contacted the defendant to bring his truck into the police station. APD inspected the truck and discovered it had new parts including the front grill, both headlights, and repairs to the hood. On Dec. 18, 2014, APD arrested Lopez at the police station after he appeared for a scheduled interview.
The victim’s brother submitted an impact statement letter to the court prior to today’s sentencing pursuant to Marsy’s Law, describing how difficult it has been for the family to come to terms with the loss of Palacios and how she was taken from her family and children in a tragic manner.
Deputy District Attorney Stephen Cornwell of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.
TONY RACKAUCKAS, District Attorney
Susan Kang Schroeder, Chief of Staff