DUI suspect in hit-and-run that killed 87-year-old man faces judge

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SAN DIEGO — A driver who allegedly drove off after striking an 87-year-old pedestrian in Encinitas pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, leaving the scene, and DUI causing serious bodily injury.

Alexander Vasquez, 24, was ordered held on $500,000 bail. He was arrested shortly after the 6 p.m. accident last Saturday night.

Sheriff’s officials said Encinitas resident Jack Hesselbach was walking in the crosswalk near the intersection of Balour and San Abella drives when he was struck by a pickup truck going northbound on Balour Drive.

Deputies and paramedics were dispatched to the scene, where they rendered aid to Hesselbach, who was suffering from a ruptured aorta, kidney damage and a broken leg. He died at Scripps Hospital in La Jolla the following afternoon.

The suspect vehicle was located by deputies several blocks away from the accident scene. Vasquez was seen walking away from the general area and was detained, according to sheriff’s officials, who said deputies observed fresh blood droppings on Vasquez’s shoes.

Vasquez faces a maximum of 15 years in prison if convicted.

He will be back in court Jan. 9 for a readiness conference and Jan. 11 for a preliminary hearing.

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