Casa Grande PD nabs hit and run suspect

[ 11/28/2016 complaint: EXCEED SPEED LIMIT BY 20/45 MPH, plead guilty. see below. Was Wuertz speeding when he hit and nearly killed Brennan and then fled the scene in 2013? Is he still on probation?   ]

[Mar 2014 — plea / plea agreement dated 2/24/2014  The plea stipulates no jail; Wuertz pleas guilty to endangerment, a very low level felony (it even automatically conditionally converts to a misdemeanor). More importantly there is no hit-and-run conviction. That charge, besides being a serious felony, would have resulted in a 5 to 10 year driver license revocation — though the deal does state that “pursuant to 28-3304 the defendant’s license shall be revoked”. Though I’m not sure for how long. Section (A)3 states license must be revoked for commission of any felony w/motor vehicle. I’m not sure when sentencing is but it’s pretty much a done deal]

[UPDATE early Feb 2014: CR-201300574 has a case minute 2/5/2014 so case is still trundling along. (Pinal county superior court minutes don’t show up under caselookup)]

On April 3, 2013, bicyclist Edward Brennan, 57, was struck from behind by SUV whose driver fled the scene. Brennan was injured, seriously from the sounds of it. [] The vehicle’s mirror was left on the scene and was identified as a 2003-2006 Ford Expedition. On a hunch that the driver might use the same route around the same time, police staked out the area and arrested Thomas Cole Wuertz, 22, suspicion of leaving the scene of an injury accident.  []

Case lookup reveals a number of traffic charges against the youthful suspect over the past few years; including a reckless driving charge in 2010 in Florence-Coolidge Justice court TR-20100451, to which he plead guilty.

Hooray for the Casa Grande Police Department for following up and using good, old-fashioned police work to locate the suspect vehicle.

Casa Grande is in Pinal County; there are as of this date (5/10/2013) no records in Pinal County Superior Court (via caselookup). There will or may be some legal hurdles on identifying the driver, so we’ll have to wait and see how that plays out; there seems to have been no news since the arrest (over a month ago, as of this writing).

The area of the collision was described as southbound on N Pinal Ave (which is also route 387), just north of the city airport. Google maps views show the roadway to be separated, two lanes in each direction with a very wide paved shoulder. The news reports don’t mention where (laterally) the cyclist was riding. It’s a good guess he would have been on the shoulder.

Updates reports:  County attorney still reviewing hit and run that injured bicyclist
Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013 8:55 am
No charges have been filed against Thomas C. Wuertz of Casa Grande in connection with last week’s hit-and-run crash which injured a bicyclist.
Wuertz, 22, was arrested and jailed last week in connection with the April 3 crash that occurred around 6 a.m. on Pinal Avenue. He has since posted bond and been released from jail.

Moving along, just a few days after that news item the defendant was indicted for h/r w/serious injury (this is a class 2 felony) CR-201300574. (Pinal county superior court minutes don’t show up under caselookup)

There is also a civil case looming CV-201301656  BRENNAN vs WUERTZ also in Pinal County Superior Court.

There was a news item in the Casa Grande Dispatch Nov 25, 2013. It sounds as though the victim, Edward Brennan, is beginning to recover from his very serious injuries. There are some tidbits of info no previously release in the news, get this: “When he (the defendant) was pulled over (24 hours after the incident), though, he said he was on his way to the police station”

I tagged this case as “circumstantial evidence” to the extent that there is no positive ID of driver, as far as I know.

Post Conviction Activities

Criminal speeding (presumably §28-701.02) conviction Nov 2016:

Case Number: J-1108-TR-20161432 
Category: Criminal Court: Maricopa-Stanfield Justice 
Filing Date: 11/28/2016

Was the driver still on probation? His license was apparently valid at the time(? in other words, it was no longer revoked at the time of this complaint)