Alleged drunk driver charged with murder in restaurant worker’s death

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VISTA, Calif. — An Oceanside man who allegedly fatally struck a pedestrian in a crosswalk while fleeing from another crash was charged Friday with murder, among other charges.

Wesley Stuart, 27, was also charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, hit-and-run and drunken driving, and faces 15 years to life in state prison if convicted of all charges stemming from the Tuesday night death of 65-year-old Tran Thanhminh of Oceanside.

Police said the initial crash was reported shortly after 10:15 p.m. Tuesday at Douglas Drive and Mission Avenue.

Investigators believe Stuart was driving a 2011 Chevrolet Silverado pickup and was speeding eastbound on Mission, ran a red light and collided with a Ford F-150 pickup that was northbound on Douglas, Oceanside police Sgt. Rick Davis said.

After the crash, the Chevy driver backed up and headed east on Mission, where he struck Thanhminh in a crosswalk, dragging him about 150 feet down the street, Davis said.

Thanhminh, who died at the scene, was with his wife at the time, though she was not struck, authorities said.

Thanhminh had just ended his shift at Pho Ha Grill & Bar and was walking home with his wife when he was hit while preparing to cross the street.

“Obviously this is extremely traumatic for the family,” Deputy District Attorney David Uyar said. “The decedent’s wife was walking just feet from the decedent when he was struck.”

Stuart allegedly continued on Mission before getting out of the pickup at Rancho Del Oro and fleeing on foot with a passenger, Davis said.

Officers searched the area with the help of a police helicopter and apprehended the two outside Stuart’s home, Oceanside police spokesman Tom Bussey said.

Stuart was arrested. The passenger was detained and later released, Davis said.

After pleading not guilty to all charges, Stuart will return to court Jan. 2 for a readiness conference. He is being held under a $1 million dollar bond and has been ordered by a judge to not drink at all if released on bail.

“Not only is it traumatic based on the specific type of crime it is, but that it’s ultimately so preventable if you just don’t drink and drive,” Uyar said.

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