A Julian resident will be spending the next four years in prison for the hit-and-run death of a La Mesa resident last month in El Cajon.
Craig Wendell Nelson, 56, pleaded guilty Friday and, consequently, a judge sentenced him to state prison on Tuesday, Feb. 11.
On Jan. 20, about, 10:45 a.m., Wilson headed east on Dehesa Road in his 1993 Mitsubishi Mirage. He swerved into the bike lane near Singing Hills Golf Course causing him to strike Kevin Wilson, 56, from behind. Nelson did not stop, instead he continued driving, stopping only when he got to Sloane Canyon Road. He then fled on foot, according to news reports.
Police found the abandoned vehicle, and finally a helicopter located Nelson in the brush. Police took Nelson into custody and booked him into the San Diego Central Jail for suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run. Bail was set at $50,000.
Paramedics took Wilson to Sharp Memorial Hospital where authorities pronounced him dead at about 11:45 a.m.
According to the American Automobile (AAA) Foundation, the number of hit-and-run crashes and fatalities have been steadily increasing. Most noteworthy, statistics show that 737,100 hit-and-run crashes occurred in 2015; a number that translates to one hit-and-run crash every 43 seconds.
The year 2016 recorded 2,049 hit-and-run fatalities, resulting in the highest number recorded to that date, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of that number, 1,398 of the accidents involved pedestrians or bicyclists.
New Mexico has one of the the highest rate of hit-and-run crashes, while in contrast, New Hampshire has the lowest.