Driver, 21, arrested after allegedly fleeing from crash that killed 16-year-old passenger in Redlands

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Austin Jesse Garcia, 21, appears in a photo released by the Redlands Police Department on June 1, 2021.

Austin Jesse Garcia, 21, appears in a photo released by the Redlands Police Department on June 1, 2021.

A 21-year-old driver fled from the scene of a crash in Redlands that killed a 16-year-old passenger inside his vehicle, police said Tuesday.

Austin Jesse Garcia was found at a hospital about 10 miles away from the site of the crash, which was reported to authorities around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, according to the Redlands Police Department.

Garcia, a resident of San Bernardino, was allegedly speeding in a 2001 Honda Civic when he tried to make a turn onto West Colton Avenue at the intersection with West Redlands Boulevard, police said.

“His vehicle hit a light pole, causing major damage and killing the passenger,” the department said in a news release.

Garcia fled from the scene, and Redlands police officers — assisted by a K-9 unit with the Claremont Police Department — weren’t able to find him, according to police.

But investigators later found him at St. Bernardine’s Hospital in San Bernardino after learning that a man with injuries consistent with the crash had been admitted to the facility.

Officers responded to the hospital and tracked down Garcia, who was arrested without incident, police said. Authorities said he was on probation at the time.

The identity of the victim has not been released by police. No other information has been given.

Garcia is being held at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga on $250,000 bail on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, felony driving under the influence and felony hit-and-run. Police said he’s also being held without bail on suspicion of participating in a criminal street gang.

Anyone with information can call Redlands police at 909-798-7681 ext. 1. Some non-emergency crimes may also be reported online by visiting cityofredlands.org/report-crime.

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