We often think we can run from our problems or our responsibilities. But no matter how hard you try to run, the truth can’t be avoided forever. Eventually, our problems and responsibilities wind up catching up with us.
In early 2017, a California woman attempted to run from the law after her carelessness ended up costing an innocent man his life. In the end, however, the truth about what happened finally caught up with her despite going to extreme lengths to stay hidden.
A Typical Monday
For 46-year-old Agustin Rodriguez, the morning of Monday, January 30, 2017, started just like any other day. The father of three from Whittier, California was up early like every other morning. That day, he was scheduled to work at a packaging warehouse.
A Hard Worker
According to his family, Rodriguez worked hard at the warehouse to support his children. So sometime after seven in the morning, Rodriguez left his family’s home and started riding his bicycle to his parents’ house as his father was going to drive him to work. Tragically, he never made it to his parents’ home.
An Impatient Driver
At around 7:30 am, Rodriguez was riding along Calmada Avenue and was trying to cross the street. A car closest to the father-of-three slowed to a stop to let him pass. However, the driver of the car behind the stopped car pulled out to the side to pass it.
A Careless Accident
According to the police, witnesses claim the driver of the white Lexus pulled out into the opposite lane and sped around the stopped car. The driver hadn’t realized that the other car had stopped to let Rodriguez pass on his bicycle. Sadly, it was too late by the time the driver saw Rodriguez.
A Disturbing Reaction
According to witnesses, the white Lexus then plowed head-on into Rodriguez. What happened next, however, was even more disturbing. Instead of stopping and calling for help, the driver slowed down but then sped back up, ran over Rodriguez, then dragged him two and a half blocks.
A Handful Of Mistakes
“The Lexus slowed down briefly and then sped up, dragging the bicycle rider under the Lexus,” FBI Agent Erik Arbuthnott explained in court documents. “The traffic collision investigation concluded that the Lexus drove into opposing lanes and was traveling at an unsafe speed, failing to yield to the bicycle rider.”
The 911 Call
After dragging Rodriguez 800 feet, the Lexus sped off. A horrified witness immediately called the police to report what happened. By the time first responders arrived about 15 minutes later, Rodriguez was pronounced dead at the scene by coroner officials.
‘She’s A Monster’
“The police confirmed she dragged him. She’s a monster. I think if she would’ve stopped, my uncle might still be here,” Angelica Miller, Rodriguez’s niece told KCAL 9. Since Rodriguez couldn’t be saved, the police then focused their attention on finding his killer since they had fled the scene.
The Investigation Begins
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much information for the police to start their investigation. The little information they did have came from witnesses to the hit and run. According to those witnesses, Rodriguez’s killer was likely a woman and had been driving a newer model of either the Lexus 250 or ES 350.
Looking For The Suspet
Police learned that the car had tinted windows and that it likely had damage to the front of the car from the accident. Within hours of the accident, the police released a statement to the public asking for their help locating the hit and run driver responsible for Rodriguez’s death.
The Family Speaks Out
“You can’t just get away in broad daylight at 7:30 in the morning and not be seen,” Monique Limon, Rodriguez’s other niece, told KCAL 9. “It wasn’t a little crime, she dragged a person two-and-a-half blocks. Have a heart, please come forward because my family is hurting.”
Struggling To Find The Killer
“He was definitely a family man, he was a gentle, kind person, there isn’t a person who could say a bad thing about him,” Miller said about her uncle. “He was murdered and someone is hiding it.” Over the following days, investigators did everything they could, but struggled to come up with any leads in the case.
The Anonymous Tip
However, everything changed when they got a call from an anonymous woman who believed her co-worker was the hit-and-run driver. According to the woman, her colleague seemed to fit the description that police had released. She also claimed that her colleague drove a white Lexus and had come into work late the day of the accident.
A Major Breakthrough
“That was the real turning point in the case,” Officer Robert Jensen from the Whittier Police Department’s Traffic Bureau told Whittier Daily News about the tip he received over the phone. After the woman gave Officer Jensen her co-worker’s address, he ran it in the system and found their suspect.
The Prime Suspect
Based on the information he received, Jensen was confident the driver responsible for Rodriguez’s death was Andrea Dorothy Chan Reyes, a 33-year-old finance adviser and analyst who worked as a fraud auditor. According to the police, Chan Reyes was born in the Philippines but had been living in California at the time of the accident.
Retracing The Killer’s Steps
After that breakthrough, investigators tracked down an auto body shop in Huntington Beach that Chan Reyes had visited the day after the accident. She had gotten her windshield replaced and had the front of her car repaired. According to the shop, Chan Reyes told them that she had hit a deer.
At that point, the police got a warrant to track the location of the Lexus through the car’s internal GPS system. According to Officer Jensen, that led the police to Alan Gold’s home in Meridian, Idaho. Gold was Chan Reyes’ boyfriend and was hiding the Lexus in a private garage owned by a business associate. After seizing the car, the police examined the car and found Rodriguez’s DNA on it.
The Hunt Goes Global
An arrest warrant for Chan Reyes was later approved, however, local police decided to reach out to the FBI after learning that the 33-year-old may have fled the country just days after the accident. According to authorities, Chan Reyes flew to Hong Kong, where she reportedly had relatives, to avoid a vehicular manslaughter charge and a hit-and-run charge.
Eventually, however, authorities tracked Chan Reyes from Hong Kong to Australia. By using as many as 11 different aliases, Chan Reyes was able to restart her life in Australia and settle in Adelaide. Once police caught up with her, they found her living with a new boyfriend and arrested her on April 17, 2018. After the arrest, Chan Reyes was taken into custody at a women’s prison but is expected to be extradited to the United States to face charges.
If convicted, Chan Reyes likely faces 15 years in prison, however, the Rodriguez family has been left waiting to find out when or if they will get justice for their deceased relative. “Not having any closure or information on what’s going on with everything pretty much keeps that rawness of his death in our minds,” a spokesperson for the Rodriguez family told The Advertiser. “He is deeply missed by everyone who knew and loved him. He was a good man … He would give the shirt off his back to someone in need.”