Witnesses still sought in hit-and-run death of Fuerte
January 16, 2009
Santa Paula Police Department
As family members prepare to send the body of an area woman to her native Mexico for burial, Santa Paula Police are still trying to find the suspect that struck Raquel Fuerte before speeding away.By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesAs family members prepare to send the body of an area woman to her native Mexico for burial, Santa Paula Police are still trying to find the suspect that struck Raquel Fuerte before speeding away. Fuerte, 58, of Santa Paula, died Friday from blunt force head injuries.Fuerte was struck on Tuesday, Jan. 6 at about 6:30 p.m. as she walked in the north bike lane of Santa Paula Street near Bradley Avenue, about a block from her home.The vehicle that struck Fuerte was a black or dark-colored 1999-2003 BMW 3 Series, according to SPPD Detective Ken Clark.Investigators found parts from the grill of a BMW 3 Series vehicle at the scene. “Those are the only pieces that were left behind and the marks were consistent with being from a BMW,” he noted.A native of Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Fuerte had moved to the United States about seven years ago and had been a housekeeper at an area motel until September, when she was injured on the job.A doctor recommended that she walk an hour a day as part of the therapy for her back injury.Described as optimistic and upbeat, Fuerte, a widow for more than 20 years, helped to support her two adult children, grandchildren and mother who all live in Mexico.Detective Clark said the SPPD has “Received a few calls,” from people who believe they have seen the BMW.
In addition, “One person that we know of did attempt to follow the car...we believe it turned south on Dean Drive from Santa Paula Street,” before the witness - who reported the information to the SPPD - lost sight of the vehicle.Detective Clark said there are a “Couple of leads we’re looking in,” and that he and SPPD Sgt. Ryan Smith will “hopefully, put together a small video to put on public access television,” to generate more leads.The SPPD is relying on the public to help locate the suspect: “We still want people to call if they have any information at all,” regarding the accident or if they observe a BMW that fits the description of the car that struck Fuerte.Those who saw other vehicles in the immediate area are also asked to contact police.According to witnesses, the driver of the BMW did not stop after striking Fuerte.Those with information are asked to contact Sgt. Ish Cordero at 525-4474 ext 117 or Detective Clark at 525-4474 ext 121.If a caller would prefer to remain anonymous, they can call the SPPD recorded Tip Hotline, 933-4253-1-#.Those with information can also call Ventura County Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477). Callers remain anonymous and can collect a $1,000 reward if information offered results in a conviction.