The Turlock man arrested for a hit and run that struck a couple out for a walk and resulted in the death of a woman, has agreed to a plea deal that will send him to prison for 12 years.
On Thursday in Stanislaus County Superior Court Rene Salas entered a guilty plea to a felony charge of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and in return the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office dropped charges of felony hit and run causing death and reckless driving, and a misdemeanor charge of driving on a suspended license, according to court records.
Salas was arrested nearly two weeks after Elizabeth Mancha, 46, was struck down and killed.
Mancha and her boyfriend were out for a walk with their dog around Summerfaire Park during the early evening hours of Jan. 9, 2014. The couple were in the 1300 block of Joett Drive when a Ford Mustang came careening up onto the sidewalk, striking them both.
Emergency responders performed CPR on Mancha, but she was pronounced dead at the scene. The boyfriend was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital with serious injuries. The dog, Dolly, an Australian shepherd mix ran from the collision scene, but was later found and reunited with her owner.
Witnesses to the collision called 911 and reported seeing the driver run from the scene. The registration of the Ford Mustang led investigators to Salas. The police spoke to Salas at his home the day after the collision, but Salas refused to give a statement. Investigators eventually used the evidence from the collision to show Salas was behind the wheel in the fatal crash.
Salas’ case was slated to begin jury selection when he agreed to the plea deal. He has been in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail since his arrest in January 2014.
Salas is expected to be sentenced to 12 years in prison, according to the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office. As part of his plea deal he had to admit that he had a prior strike for residential burglary.
Prior to his January 2014 arrest, Salas had racked up 10 traffic violations during a nine year span, the majority of which were for driving on a suspended license, according to the Stanislaus County Superior Court records.
Salas returns to court Feb. 9, 2016 for sentencing.