For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
DRIVER TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR CRASHING INTO AND KILLING BICYCLIST BEFORE FLEEING THE SCENE
SANTA ANA – A driver has been charged with killing a bicyclist after crashing into her and fleeing the scene. Michael Jason Lopez, 39, Anaheim, is charged with one felony count of hit and run causing death and one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence with a sentencing enhancement for a prior strike conviction for residential burglary in 1993. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of eight years in state prison. The People will be requesting Lopez be held on $100,000 bail at his arraignment today, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, at 3:00 p.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.
It approximately 9:45 a.m. on Sept. 15, 2012, 57-year-old Catherine Campion-Ritz was riding her bicycle with her husband on Newport Coast Drive in Newport Beach. Lopez is accused of driving his vehicle on the same road and crashing into the back of the victim, throwing her from her bike to the street.
Instead of stopping to assist the victim or calling 911, Lopez is accused of failing to remain at the scene or render any aid and fled the scene. The defendant is accused of sustaining damage to his Toyota pick-up truck consistent with colliding with a person riding a bicycle.
Ritz was transported to Mission Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 1:40 p.m.
The case was investigated by the Newport Beach Police Department, who arrested Lopez at approximately 2:00 a.m. on Sept. 18, 2012. The investigation is ongoing.
Deputy District Attorney Nancy Hayashida of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.