Bristol man told police he was ‘intoxicated’ after fleeing hit-and-run scene

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BRISTOL-  A 20-year-old city man appeared in front of a Superior Court judge after being accused of a hit and run Thursday night that left a Bristol couple hospitalized.

Jesse Lopez, 20, of Bristol faces misdemeanor charges, including two counts of failure to avoid striking a pedestrian,  evading responsibility, interfering with police and operating a vehicle without a license.

Just after 6:15 p.m. Thursday, police were called to Pine Street by the intersection of Mitchell Street after a husband and wife, one in a wheelchair, were struck by Lopez's 2003 Chevrolet TrailBlazer, according to a police affidavit.

The couple, in their late 30s, was leaving the Pine Street Dunkin' Donuts.  Both were taken to Hartford Hospital and remain in stable condition.

"He did strike these two people, left these two people in the roadway after they were injured," said a state prosecutor during Lopez's court appearance Friday.

Lopez was taken into custody by police around 12:30 a.m. Friday, more than four hours after Police say Lopez continued into Plainville without stopping and rendering aid.

Police said a driver behind the suspected vehicle chased the vehicle and called 911, where a B.O.L.O. alert was issued to area police.

A Plainville Police officer later discovered Lopez's TrailBlazer parked in a rear parking lot of a brick apartment building on East Main Street.

Officers questioned several residents living inside the building. In one apartment, police interviewed four people who all claimed they rode with Lopez as he drove from Bristol to Plainville.

A Plainville officer interviewed Lopez , who told him he was "intoxicated" and didn't know who drove him or what vehicle he arrived in.

One of Jesse Lopez's friends told a Spanish-speaking officer brought in from Hartford Police that Lopez was the only person allowed to drive the vehicle.

Plainville Police reviewed security footage from the apartment building which shows Lopez pulling into the parking lot, exiting the driver's side of the vehicle and examining the damage to the front end.

According to investigators, Lopez was given multiple opportunities to discuss the crash but denied any involvement, and was charged with interfering with police after he told investigators he "forgot" how to speak English during interview attempts.

"Nobody will take responsibility of their actions until they get caught, and that's the way it is," said Dawn Tuller, a  Bristol resident.

Lopez does not have previous criminal record, but prosecutors indicated the misdemeanor charges he face could be increased to felony charges.

Although Lopez admitted to being "intoxicated", state prosecutors haven't charged with Lopez with driving under the influence.

"We'll never know because he left the scene of the accident, but that is something we can look into," a prosecutor said.

Lopez posted $25,000 bail and had his case continued until his next scheduled appearance on December 11.