Suspect charged in fatal hit-and-run case

December 19, 2009 3:43:19 PM PST
A deadly hit-and-run crash blocked the South Loop for a couple hours Friday night and police may have already gotten a break in the case. The medical examiner identified the victim as 27-year-old Stephen Cannon of Houston. Police say Cannon was walking across the South Loop near South Main and Kirby when the accident happened. Then the driver took off. Investigators may have found the hit-and-run driver and are working to determine how it all happened.

Around 8:45pm, two Houston police patrol cars cornered the suspect as he stood next to his severely damaged Nissan Frontier pickup truck in a Sam's Club parking lot. Officers then handcuffed him and put him in the back of a patrol car. This scene was not even a mile away from the scene of the crime on the South Loop.

It was around 7:30pm when emergency crews responded to the fatal auto pedestrian accident. Investigators believe the victim was trying to cross the freeway when he was hit. The vehicle just kept on going.

"Kind of a dark area, it's not too well-lighted so we're not sure if they initially could have seen the guy or not," said Lt. Kenneth Campbell of the Houston Police Department. "Obviously, the damage to the car should have indicated some reason to pull over and stop."

The accident shut down three lanes of traffic, forcing drivers to find alternative routes.

"I tried to avoid the traffic congestion and work around it," said Jim Dorsett.

It was one of those drivers taking a side street who spotted the damaged pickup truck. One hour later, a suspect was in custody.

We did speak to the driver who called 911 after spotting the truck in the Sam's Club parking lot. He said he saw it and thought something was just not right.

Police have four people in custody, two adults and two juveniles. They say there was a language barrier and they had to call in Spanish-speaking officers to help translate.

Authorities identified the driver as Juan Benitez, 33, of Houston. He was taken into custody and was charged for failure to stop and render aid.

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