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Officials: Woodland teen killed on I-5 may have been raped

Published: Tuesday, Jul. 9, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3B
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jul. 9, 2013 - 7:55 am

The 17-year-old Woodland girl killed by a hit-and-run driver on Interstate 5 Friday may have been raped at a West Sacramento party before the crash, according to law enforcement officials.

"There was an alleged rape," said Officer Bryan Konvalin, a Woodland-based California Highway Patrol spokesman, on Monday.

Lt. Tod Sockman, spokesman for the West Sacramento Police Department, said his agency is investigating what happened at the party and whether a rape took place.

"We're waiting for the report back on the exam to see if that actually occurred," said Sockman. "We don't know that for sure."

Woodland CHP identified the girl Monday as Claudia Marie Gonzalez. The Yolo County Coroner's Office conducted an autopsy Monday to investigate the cause of death, possible alcohol intoxication and the rape allegation, but results were not available.

Gonzalez was a passenger in a 2001 Chevy Impala that was northbound on Interstate 5 at 12:34 a.m., according to Konvalin. Gonzalez was riding with another teenage girl and a 38-year-old man who was driving them back to Woodland after attending a party in West Sacramento.

"Gonzalez was upset, due to an allegation of being raped at the party," Konvalin said. "She became very upset, causing the driver to pull over on the right shoulder just north of (County Road 103)."

Although CHP investigators are still trying to determine the exact sequence of events, Konvalin said Gonzalez apparently got out of the Chevy and ran into the northbound lanes of traffic, where she was struck by an unknown vehicle that fled the scene.

When the 38-year-old man went to assist Gonzalez, the other passenger fled in the Chevy. It was unclear Monday whether authorities found the passenger and Chevy after the CHP initially said they were missing.

The names of the man and the teenage girl have not been released.

"We're doing follow-up on the driver," said Konvalin. "It's a criminal investigation. We're not releasing the names until it's complete."

He said investigators are following up on some leads but have yet to locate the hit-and-run vehicle. It is described as an unknown sedan that has left front and possible side damage.

CHP is asking that anyone with information on the crash call (530) 662-4685.

Call The Bee's Tillie Fong, (916) 321-1006.

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