VISTA, Calif. - A motorist who struck a bicyclist and left him to die along a Rancho Santa Fe Road pleaded guilty Wednesday to a felony charge of hit- and-run causing death.
Jin Hyuk Byun, 19, faces probation on the low end and four years in prison on the high end of the sentencing scale when he returns to the Vista courthouse on Jan. 3.
According to court testimony, Byun was behind the wheel of a black 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche that struck 18-year-old Angel Bojorquez, a grocery clerk at an Albertsons supermarket in Del Mar, sometime after 1 a.m. on July 6.
Police and California Highway Patrol officers testified at a preliminary hearing last month that Byun was sweating when authorities showed up at his home to question him about the damaged SUV.
Bojorquez, who lived in Escondido with an older brother and his aunt and uncle, was found dead in shrubs along a curvy section of Via De La Valle. He was riding without a light on his bicycle when he was struck, according to authorities.
Deputy District Attorney Aimee McLeod said Byun knew that he had run into a person, noting "the amount of distance on that roadway that he would have been able to see a person in a reflective vest, that the location that the body struck the hood of the truck up above the headlight assembly, the fact that he pulled over to an area where no one would be able to see him, that he removed the tire, then drove home for five miles and hid the vehicle inside the garage."
"Those are the reasons he knew he hit a person and failed to stop or do anything," she said after the hearing.
Steve Bojorquez said he and his brother worked at the same store and often rode to work together. That Friday, however, Angel rode to work by himself. He had only ridden the 20 miles or so from work to home a few times, his sibling said.
The victim was riding north near Paseo Delicias when a dark-colored SUV drifted onto the shoulder and struck him, according to CHP Officer Chris Parent.
When questioned about damage to his SUV, Byun told investigators his Avalanche was garaged and had not been driven recently because of electrical problems, according to the CHP.
CHP Officer Steven Jio testified that Byun started sobbing when he was questioned and eventually told the arresting officer what happened.
"He thought he struck a mailbox, maybe a deer, maybe a dog, he wasn't sure," Jio testified.
Jio said the Byun told him he reached to adjust the radio, heard a loud "clink" and noticed he had a flat tire.