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Man arrested in connection to fatal hit-and-run in Watsonville

jesus deleon mug
Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office
Jesus Picos DeLeon

WATSONVILLE, Calif. (KION) Watsonville police arrested a man they believe was involved in a fatal hit-and-run Tuesday night.

Officers arrested Jesus Picos DeLeon after the crash around Freedom Boulevard between Lincoln and Marin streets at about 9 p.m.

Police believe DeLeon was driving southbound on Freedom Boulevard when the victim, 38-year-old Jason Silva, darted across the street and was hit by DeLeon's car. Silva died at the scene.

DeLeon drove away and was involved in another crash while leaving the scene, according to police. The other driver involved in that crash was not injured.

“If the driver stayed at the scene, we’d be dealing with something very different,” Michelle Pulido with Watsonville PD said.

Officers said DeLeon returned to the scene of the fatal hit-and-run while they were searching for him to turn himself in. He was arrested and booked into the Santa Cruz County Jail.

Just before the crash happened, Watsonville's city council had just approved a new plan to try to help limit pedestrian accidents.

“Watsonville's been struggling with high levels of pedestrian and bicycle accidents. We actually rank among one of the highest cities per capita,” city manager Matt Huffaker said.

Watsonville becomes the first city in the county to introduce the vision zero action plan, which includes more improvements to traffic safety to try to eliminate pedestrian deaths.

“Green bike lanes are going in, a number of crosswalk improvements, and increased lighting. [the city is] trying to make our community safer,” Huffaker said.

“We need everyone to be on the same page. That means drivers need to slow down and pedestrians need to make sure they’re making eye contact with drivers and using a crosswalk,” Pulido said.

Police said there are reports that DeLeon was racing another vehicle before the crash, and investigators said they are working to find out whether that is true.

This is the first fatal pedestrian vs. vehicle accident in Watsonville since May of last year.

Anyone with information is asked to call Sgt. Donny Thul at 831-768-3315.

Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson is the Digital Content Director at KION News Channel 5/46.

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