Neil Nisperos, Staff Writer
Created: 06/16/2010 06:15:12 PM PDT
CHINO – Councilman Earl Elrod will be arraigned next week for his involvement in a hit-and-run incident that led to a standoff with police at his house.
Elrod was arrested for driving under the influence related to the Feb. 14 incident at C and 10th streets, but he was able to escape that charge because California Highway Patrol officers could not show evidence of it.
CHP officers were unable to test the councilman for alcohol or drugs that night. Elrod avoided authorities by refusing to come out of his house – where he had fled – despite numerous requests from CHP officers as well as an assistant Chino police chief and a captain.
“Once our investigators were there, they did make contact loudly knocking on the garage, and they could hear the phone ringing inside the house, but nobody responded and he never came out that night,” California Highway Patrol spokesman Danny Hesser said.
“We felt it was a way for him to avoid us, and it led us to to believe he had been driving under the influence at the time of the crash.”
The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office decided not to pursue the DUI charge and filed only a misdemeanor hit-and-run charge.
“The investigative agency at the time of an incident may view the facts in a particular light, but when it comes to the District Attorney’s Office, we look at the law and the element we need to prove, and so we file charges based on events that we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Christine Masonek, the deputy district attorney prosecuting at the arraignment.
Elrod said he would like to speak out on the matter, but his attorney has advised him against it.
His attorney, David M. Goldstein of Rancho Cucamonga, did not return calls for comment.
A black Lexus driven by Elrod was hit by a bicyclist on Feb. 14 at C and 10th streets.
The bicyclist was heading west on C Street and did not obey the stop sign at the intersection when he collided with the Lexus at 5:30 p.m., Hesser said.
The councilman reportedly fled the scene without identifying himself to other parties involved, which is a violation of the California Vehicle Code.
The bicyclist – Salvadore Zavala, 57 – suffered minor injuries and damage to his bicycle, according to Chino police. Zavala was later transported to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton to treat knee abrasions, police said.
Elrod’s wife, Sondra, was a passenger in the Lexus, which, police said, was traveling at 15 miles per hour when it collided with the bicycle.
Salvadore Camberos, 30, who was driving near the intersection at the time of the collision, got out of his car to check on Zavala, who had been knocked off his bike.
Camberos advised Elrod to remain at the scene, but the councilman reportedly left the scene in the Lexus and went home.
“Mr. Elrod drove away from the scene without exchanging information with anybody, getting out of his vehicle, or contacting law enforcement,” Hesser said. “After Mr. Elrod left the scene, Camberos followed him for a short time and got a partial license number.”
Camberos contacted the Chino Police Department whose officers identified Elrod. Chino police and city officials turned over the case to the CHP in order to avoid any conflict of interest, Chino spokeswoman Michelle Van Der Linden said.
CHP officials arrived at Elrod’s home a short time after the accident but could not contact him, despite knocking on doors and calling his phone. They eventually gave up and left a calling card at the house.
Chino police stayed at the scene to keep watch for any activity.
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