Janesville man charged in hit-and-run death

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Ted Sullivan
Saturday, June 6, 2009
— A Janesville man was ordered to stand trial Friday in the death of a man killed in a hit-and-run crash.

Omar Miguel Lopez, 24, of 2323 Mt. Zion Ave., Janesville, is charged with hit-and-run involving death and knowingly operating while revoked.

Rock County Court Commissioner Stephen Meyer bound him over for trial after a preliminary hearing.

Bradley Griffith, 45, of 2614 Vail Court, No. 2, Janesville, died in the crash.

Lopez was driving a car east on Mt. Zion Avenue at 4:10 p.m. Saturday, April 11, when his vehicle collided with the small motorcycle Griffith was riding, according to the criminal complaint.

A witness told police Lopez had a red light and was traveling 50 mph, according to the criminal complaint.

Lopez fled the scene after the crash, according to the criminal complaint.

A witness followed Lopez and later flagged down police, according to the criminal complaint.

Officer Aaron Ellis interviewed Lopez in Spanish and a little English.

"He told me that he was involved in an accident," Ellis testified at the preliminary hearing. "He told me that he struck a motorcycle. He left because he was scared and he knew he did not have a driver's license."

Lopez claimed he had a green light, Ellis said, and he knew the motorcyclist had fallen to the ground.

Officer Jeremy DeWitt went to the accident scene. He told the court he found Griffith lying on the ground, wearing a helmet and orange safety vest.

Griffith had a weak pulse, small pupils and wasn't tracking anything with his eyes, DeWitt said.

"He was not moving," DeWitt said. "I saw no signs of actual movement or life in him.

"It was my opinion that he was going to die."

Griffith was taken to Mercy Hospital in Janesville. He had a broken femur, pelvis and clavicle. His lungs were filling with blood. He also had a head injury.

Griffith died about a month later.

Lopez wore an orange jailhouse uniform in court Friday and often lowered his head, looking toward his lap.

A translator sat next to Lopez and explained the court proceedings in Spanish.

Lopez was convicted of hit-and-run in November 2006. He also has convictions for operating without a license, speeding and operating while suspended.

Lopez remains in jail on $10,000 cash bond. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are investigating if Lopez in the country legally, jail officials said.

He is scheduled to appear in court Friday, June 12, for an arraignment.

Last updated: 10:46 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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