Hit and run crash occurred 3/29/2018 ~ 9pm. The bicyclist died of his injuries 4/30.
“Cleon Baker was riding his bike east on Camelback Road near 48th Avenue the night of March 29. Just before 9 p.m., a van – a white Ford Econline with its headlights off, police say — hit him.”
Police are still seeking the driver of a white Ford Econoline van; they believe the driver was caught on surveillance video, described as a Hispanic male, 25-35 years old with a shaved head, mustache, and a thin build.
Any info, please contact the Glendale Police Department at 623-930-3000 or Silent Witness at either 480-WITNESS (948-6377) or 1-800-343-TIPS (8477). Spanish speakers may call 480-TESTIGO (837-8446). Currently there is an up to $1,000 reward.
There is (very graphic) crash video; they show the bicyclist traveling EB along Camelback Road near 48th Ave when he abruptly veers/turns left into the street; directly into the path of the van also traveling EB, in the curb lane. The video shows the van did not have its headlights on.
yourvalley.net reports that Baker “is a father of two boys. He served in the U.S. Air Force as a crew chief, according to his Facebook page. Mr. Baker grew up in Joliet, Illinois and attended Joliet Central High School”.
Suspect Arrested in October
Suspect arrested in connection with fatal hit-and-run in Glendale “Margarito Valencia Rodriguez, 39, was taken into custody Oct. 1 and faces charges in the death of 32-year-old Cleon Baker” saying anonymous tips led to the arrest.
Margarito Valencia Rodriguez
- CR-2018148310 Maricopa County Superior Court
28-661B (F3) FAIL TO STAY/WITH DEATH/INJURY; and 13-2907.01A (M1) FALSE REPORT TO LAW ENFORCE
- CR-2018148310 case minutes
Defendant took a plea deal to the leaving the scene (an F3, but stipulated as non-dangerous) on 1/18/2019, and the other charge was apparently dropped. Sentencing hasn’t happened yet; but typically nets a short jail sentence along with probation and probably most importantly a license revocation for 5 years.
UPDATE: here is the sentencing minute; 9 months in county jail, followed by 5 years supervised probation, and something that I like to see is the bit about “Condition: 22 Defendant’s privilege to drive is revoked. Defendant must have a valid drivers license before
he is able to drive again”
Crash Report / FARS
may have DID occurred outside of the 1-month window; and therefore will not be listed in federal FARS database. For the moment, it’s tagged as non-traffic (and missing hit and run) because for unknown reasons is not appearing in ADOT’s database,
At that time Glendale vehicle crimes Det Yoder told me the Glendale departmental report is available and is DR 18-046244. But at this time (before Oct 2019), it’s simply missing from ADOT records but no one knows why.
No crash report is in ADOT’s datafile as of 2/22/2019; at least not as a bicyclist. After bringing to the attention of ADOT, as of mid-Oct 2019 , was entered into adot as 3570600.
Old Fashioned Police Work
This is not the first time the Glendale PD has doggedly perused a hit-and-run driver; ultimately finding and arresting him many months after the incident, through persistence and developing leads.
Driver John Kovacich struck a young boy who had rode out in front of him, and the driver fled the scene; witnesses identified the type of car, but no one saw the license plate; and also noticed the driver was talking on a cell phone. Glendale Police methodically began searching for cars of that model, only to come up empty; only through a tip was the suspect’s car located, it bore Montana tags. Search warrants were then obtained for the owner’s cell records. The driver eventually wriggled out of the hit-and-run charge by accepting for a plea deal to endangerment.