Suspect identified in fatal hit-and-run


The California Highway Patrol has identified a suspect wanted in connection with a hit-and-run collision that left a 21-year-old man dead early Saturday morning in unincorporated Sonoma County near Santa Rosa.

The CHP is looking for John Mesker, 33, of Rohnert Park, the owner of the vehicle officers say was involved in the crash.

Mesker is believed to have been driving the vehicle at the time of the collision and is “wanted only for questioning at this point,” investigators said in a statement.

According to the CHP, a report came in at 4:14 a.m. about a possible body in the roadway on Petaluma Hill Road near Hunters Lane.

CHP officers and Sonoma County deputies arrived at the scene and located Basilio Nathan Garza Jr., 21, on the west shoulder of Petaluma Hill Road, just north of Hunter Lane, according to the CHP.

Officers said Garza Jr. was walking in the southbound traffic lane on Petaluma Hill Road when he was struck and killed by a vehicle.

When emergency personnel arrived, there were no vehicles in the area and no witnesses to the collision.

Due to the nature of the victim’s injuries and physical evidence at the scene, CHP investigators determined a vehicle traveling south on Petaluma Hill Road had struck the victim.

Officers searched the area but did not locate a vehicle.

A resident in Rohnert Park later called police to report a strange vehicle parked in front of her residence.

Rohnert Park police identified the vehicle as being possibly related to the hit-and-run collision.

The vehicle had damage consistent with hitting a pedestrian and the vehicle was impounded for evidence, according to the CHP.

The CHP is seeking the public’s help in locating Mesker.

Anyone with information about Mesker’s whereabouts or about the collision is asked to contact the CHP at (707) 551-4100.

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