Arrest made in hit-and-run death of Merced County reservist

03/20/2013 1:55 PM

03/20/2013 4:45 PM

A 23-year-old Los Banos man has been arrested in connection with the death of an Army Reservist in a hit and run, police said.

On Wednesday Jesse Ryan Fuentes was arrested at his home on suspicion of felony hit and run and driving with a suspended license. Fuentes is accused of killing Fernando Buenrostro Jr., 18, in a hit and run near Cardinal Street and Fairmont Drive at 7:41 p.m. Saturday.

Cmdr. Ray Reyna Jr. said when authorities arrived on the scene they found Buenrostro lying on the ground with major head injuries. He had been hit by a truck while driving a motorized scooter, police said.

Buenrostro was airlifted to Doctor's Medical Center in Modesto. He died the next morning.

Witnesses told authorities the truck that hit Buenrostro was a white Chevrolet or Ford. On Wednesday police spotted a white 2001 Ford F-150 driving in the area of Mercey Springs Road and Santa Cruz Way. The truck had damage to the front driver side hood and grill. Police stopped the driver, who identified his son as being in possession of the truck on the evening of the fatal collision.

Detectives arrested Fuentes at his residence in the 1400 block of Mission Drive. Fuentes is in custody at the Los Banos Police Department Jail.

The victim's family members were encouraged by news of the suspect's arrest. "I'm glad we don't have that uncertainty anymore, we're not trying to guess," said Lionel Buenrostro, the victim's uncle .

"If he wants to get a jury or whatever, it's going to be up to them. We're not pushing for anything harsh. Basically like my brother said on the TV, 'do the right thing, turn yourself in and let justice do the rest."

Fernando Buenrostro Sr., the victim's father, said earlier this week his son had only recently moved away from home. "He had barely been a week out on his own," Buenrostro's father said. "He said he wanted to move out and take that step to be grown."

Fernando Buenrostro Jr. graduated from Los Banos High School last year and entered the National Guard. His uncle is a veteran and Buenrostro wanted to follow in his footsteps, according to the elder Fernando.

He described his son as a quiet and shy person. Lupe Castillo, the Buenrostros’ cousin, said the family is in a state of shock. He said he always felt close to his young relative.

"He was almost like everybody's son. He was the first born grandchild so basically we treated him like he was the first son in the whole family,” Castillo said.

Funeral services for Fernando Buenrostro Jr. will be held Sunday at 5 p.m. at Whitehurst Funeral Chapel, 1840 Center Ave. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Los Banos Police Department at 827-7070.

Enterprise reporter Corey Pride can be reached at (209) 388-6563 or by email at cpride@losbanosenterprise.com.

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