Negligent homicide among hit-run charges
The driver who allegedly killed 19-year-old pedestrian Christopher Humbert in a hit-and-run earlier this month has been charged with three felonies, including one count of negligent homicide.
Somerton Justice of the Peace Jorge Lozano informed 26-year-old Joseph Dildine, of Yuma, who made his appearance via video feed from the Yuma County jail, that he had also been charged with one count of leaving the scene of an accident involving a death and one count of aggravated DUI.
Lozano also set Dildine's bail at $100,000 during the arraignment hearing and appointed a public defender to represent him. Dildine's next court date was scheduled for a preliminary hearing July 23 at 2 p.m.
Yuma police responded to a report of a man down in the 3800 block of West 24th Street at about 4:21 a.m. July 3 and found Humbert lying in the road. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The initial investigation revealed that he had been struck by a vehicle between approximately 4 and 4:21 a.m. Police said they had an approximate time because he was dropped off in the area by someone.
Evidence at the scene indicated that the vehicle involved may be a 2002 or newer full-sized gray or another light color Dodge pickup, possibly with four doors. The vehicle also had a front license plate of an American flag and bald eagle and possible damage in the center of the front bumper, grill and hood.
Yuma police arrested Dildine at about 11:23 a.m. on July 11 when an off-duty Yuma police officer spotted a vehicle matching the suspect's vehicle in the 4600 block of West Sharon Lane.
According to court records, on the morning of the incident, Dildine was driving westbound on 24th Street approaching Avenue C when he struck Humbert, who was standing in the center line street markings.
Court records also indicated that, when questioned by police, Dildine said he initially thought he had hit a curb. It wasn't until the following morning, when he saw the amount of damage to his pickup, that he thought he might have hit someone.
It was also indicated in court records that even after he learned Yuma police were looking for the driver who was involved, Dildine did not contact authorities. A records check also revealed that his driver's license was suspended.
During questioning by police, court records show that Dildine admitted to drinking beer, whiskey and rum before the incident. When asked about his level of intoxication during that same interview, Dildine said it was about a five.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.