A late-90s model Buick Park Avenue has been identified as a “vehicle of interest” in Friday’s fatal hit-and-run of a 17-year-old Woodland girl on Interstate 5, the California Highway Patrol announced Monday.
Authorities say they’re also investigating whether a possible sexual assault preceded the incident on northbound I-5 just north of County Road 103.
Claudia Marie Gonzalez died of injuries she sustained after being struck by a vehicle on the freeway’s fast lane near the center median at about 12:30 a.m., CHP Officer Bryan Konvalin said.
She and another teenage girl were passengers in a 2001 Chevy Impala driven by a 38-year-old man, and all three were returning to Woodland after attending a party in Sacramento when the incident occurred, according to Konvalin.
“Gonzalez was upset due to an allegation of being raped at the party,” Konvalin said in a news release. The driver, whose name was not released, pulled over to the right shoulder of the road, after which Gonzalez reportedly got out of the car and ran into the traffic lanes.
It was at that point that Gonzalez was struck by a vehicle whose driver fled from the scene, Konvalin said. As the driver of the Impala ran over to assist Gonzalez, the second teenage girl left the scene in his car.
Gonzalez died at the scene from her injuries.
The CHP announced Monday afternoon that a brown 1998 Buick Park Avenue, license number 6VIM118, has been identified as the vehicle that may have struck Gonzalez that morning. The vehicle may have left front and side damage, and is believed to have recently been sold to a local tow or salvage company, Konvalin said.
As both the CHP and Yolo County coroner’s officials investigate the various issues involved in the case — the hit-and-run, the alleged sexual assault and the possible role of alcohol — authorities urge anyone with information to call the Woodland CHP at 530-662-4685.
— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter @laurenkeene