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Notícias Recentes Ítens: Juan Carlos Lugo, 21, of Chico, was killed

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Juan Carlos Lugo, 21, of Chico, was killed 25 Feb 2003
One killed in hit-and-run accident on The Esplanade

By ELEANOR CAMERON - Staff Writer
A hit-and-run accident on The Esplanade left one person dead Monday morning, closing the main thoroughfare's intersection with First Avenue until early afternoon.

Juan Carlos Lugo, 21, of Chico, was killed at 7:45 a.m. when his Nissan Sentra was struck by a Ford pickup driven by Donovan Phipps at the busy intersection.

Mark Lemos, a delivery driver for Chico Unified School District, was stopped at a red light in the northbound lane of The Esplanade at the time.

He said the beige truck "came blazing through the intersection." The truck passed him on the left, narrowly missed a car heading east on First Avenue and hit the westbound Nissan Sentra.

Phipps' truck struck the Sentra in the middle of the driver's door. Lemos said the force of the impact spun the Sentra into and then around the light standard in the median at the north side of the intersection. The Nissan came to rest when it hit a white Honda Civic that was stopped at the light in the left southbound lane of The Esplanade.

Lugo was ejected from the car into the southbound lane. No one in the Honda was injured.

The driver's seat of the Sentra was pushed in to the passenger seat. Its steering wheel was also pushed over into the center of the dashboard. The roof was folded in half lengthwise and was cracked open from edge to center. The driver's door was ripped off the hinges.

Several religious books-on-tape were in the debris including the Book of Mormon.

Lugo was pronounced dead at Enloe Medical Center.

Phipps, 33, came to a stop between East First and East Second Avenues about 60 feet from the intersection and fled. Witnesses followed Phipps to Magnolia and West Seventh avenues, and then pointed him out to police.

He was charged by Chico police with felony hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter. Phipps fought with police as they arrested him.

Phipps, also a Chico resident, received a head injury and was admitted to Enloe for observation. He will be booked into the Butte County Jail in Oroville upon release.

Lemos stopped his delivery van across the intersection, got out and began directing traffic around the collision site to avoid another accident.

Chico police closed The Esplanade between Second Avenue and Sacramento Avenue with yellow crime scene tape. Traffic was first diverted to the side drive on the east side of The Esplanade and Magnolia to the west.

Sgt. Dan Fonseca said traffic would be diverted until at least two in the afternoon. Traffic investigators took measurements of skid marks, mapped out points of impact and catalogued the debris field for evidence.

All of the information, including the speed of the driver, time of the accident, the road and weather conditions will be forwarded to the District Attorney's Office.

"It's not very frequent to have accidents of this magnitude on this road. Maybe two or three a year times a year," said Fonseca. He attributes the low rate to the design of the road.

"It's a controlled road through this portion with stop lights at every other intersection." The speed limit on The Esplanade is posted at 30 mph.

Lugo just returned from a mission to Sao Palo, Brazil. He spent 24 months in the South American city as a proselytizing missionary. He learned to speak, read and write Portuguese fluently while he was there, said Dennis Freire, one of the leading members of the Lugo family's church ward.

"He became a much beloved emissary in the community," Freire added. Lugo's faith "encompassed his whole life."

Freire told the Enterprise-Record Lugo was a collegiate and high school athlete, competing in cross-country and track events. Freire said he also had a Tiger Wood's smile and a bright eyed personality.

"He took those attributes with him to Brazil with a deep and patient faith."

Freire said Lugo has two brothers. One, older brother Luis and younger brother Andreas. Andreas is a senior at Pleasant Valley High School.

"He dropped Andreas off at PV and he was on his way home when the accident happened," Freire added.

An Eagle Scout, Lugo was studying mechanical engineering at Chico State University.

Paul Chamlee, a member of Lugo's ward, described the young man as a "happy person. He was always willing to work with anyone who needed help."
Kirk Loring Thornton Case Enviar E-mail
 
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