Court documents: Father led investigators to his son in hit-and-run fatalities

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Frank Schultz
Monday, April 28, 2014

JANESVILLE—The suspect in the hit-and-run fatal motorcycle accident April 20 was turned in by his father, according to a criminal complaint.

Sambath Pal, 24, is suspected of being the driver of an SUV that crossed the centerline and hit two motorcyclists at dusk on Easter Sunday.

Sheriff Robert Spoden described Pal's father as an immigrant to this country and “very decent.”

“He kept telling us he thought he had to be a good citizen, and even though it was his son, he had to do the right thing,” Spoden said.

It's a terrible position for a father to be in, Spoden noted.

“That's the sad thing about this, that these families are destroyed,” Spoden said, referring both to the father and to the families of the victims.

Pal is charged in Rock County Court with two felony counts of hit and run resulting in death, each carrying a maximum prison sentence of 25 years and maximum fine of $100,000.

Mitchell J. Vance, 24, and Devin J. Julius, 18, both of Janesville, died from injuries suffered in the crash.

Pal is in the Lake County, Ill., jail pending extradition to Wisconsin. An extradition hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

Spoden said if Pal does not oppose extradition, he could be in Rock County custody within four or five days. If he fights extradition, it could take a maximum 90 days.

Spoden revealed Friday that Pal had been arrested, but he would not comment on the anonymous tipster who led investigators to Pal. Spoden said that's because the father didn't want his son to find out in the news media; he wanted to tell him himself.

Now that it's in a public document, Spoden did not object to revealing who gave the tip.

The criminal complaint filed in Rock County Court reveals that Pal's father, Saroeun Tigh of Park City, Ill., called the Rock County 911 center Thursday.

Tigh told investigators that his son, Pal, had driven his 2004 Intiniti QX56 to Janesville over the weekend, and that when he returned, it had front-end damage.

Park City police went to Tigh's home, found the vehicle and arrested Pal the same day.

Pal told his father “I hit something” but didn't know what it was and did not stop to check, the criminal complaint states.

Tigh said his wife received a call from relatives in Janesville, saying that a black SUV like the one Tigh owns was being sought.

“Tigh said he was concerned that Pal was the one who had the accident and wanted to know for sure if it was involved or not,” the complaint states.

Tigh said Pal moved to Park City last November. Rock County investigators have found previous addresses for Pal in Janesville and Edgerton, Spoden said.

The complaint also states that Pal was in Janesville to visit his girlfriend.

The girlfriend's mother told investigators Pal visited over the Easter weekend. She said Pal gave his girlfriend a ride to work around 5 p.m., and left again around 7:20 p.m. to pick her up from work.

For some reason, the girlfriend had to work later than her scheduled 7:30 p.m., and Pal returned without her sometime around sunset, although the mother could not remember the time, the complaint states.

The sheriff's office has said they were called to the accident at 7:57 p.m. and that Pal was alone in the vehicle, as far as they know.

When Pal returned, he gave the mother a bottle of wine for having him over for dinner, the complaint states. The mother later picked up her daughter from work about 10 p.m.

Pal left for Park City the morning of Monday, April 21, the complaint states.

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