Valentino Angelo Alvarez wiped away tears from behind the bars of a jailhouse courtroom’s cell Monday as he was charged with five felonies after authorities said he fled his wrecked car as his grandmother and his father’s girlfriend lay dead and his dad maimed on a rural south Sacramento County road.
Alvarez’s grandmother, Elizabeth Hernandez, 64, of Hood and family friend, Lisa Fitzpatrick, 47, of Folsom died in the car, after a collision with a tractor-trailer rig. Alvarez’s father lost a hand in the wreck, relatives told The Bee. The Wednesday crash occurred on eastbound Hood-Franklin Road.
Alvarez looked out briefly at the news cameras trained on his cell in Sacramento Superior Court and the clusters of relatives and Fitzpatrick’s family in the gallery as visiting Superior Court Judge Joseph Orr read the charges. Alvarez was charged with two counts of felony vehicular manslaughter and three counts of felony hit-and-run causing death or injury in a deadly wreck. Authorities said he hitched a ride after the collision.
As he was led back to his cell, he called out, “Come and see me,” to family members in the gallery, then, “I love you all.”
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Alvarez’s family declined to speak with a reporter after the hearing.
Come and see me. I love you all.
Valentino Alvarez, to family members after his arraignment
Joseph Tabaldo, Fitzpatrick’s brother, spoke briefly outside the courtroom, with his sister’s children at his side.
“This is just a tragic situation. We just want to find out what happened. Of course, nothing’s going to be taken care of – it doesn’t mean our sister is coming back – we’re just going to have to deal with it. Her kids are here struggling with it,” Tabaldo said. “Unfortunately, this is what it has to come to. All we hope for is to get peace and justice in this situation.”
Alvarez was arrested by California Highway Patrol officers 24 hours after the accident as he was seeking treatment at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in south Sacramento. He was taken without a struggle.
All we hope for is to get peace and justice in this situation.
Joseph Tabaldo, brother of Lisa Fitzpatrick, who died in the collison
Alvarez will return to court Sept. 26 from the Sacramento County Main Jail, where he has been held since his arrest. Orr on Monday set bail at $775,000.
Court documents showed Alvarez faced a March 2013 allegation of felony carjacking but pleaded no contest to a lesser misdemeanor charge.
That same year, he pleaded no contest to felony auto theft. He was placed on probation in April 2014 in connection with a misdemeanor charge of carrying a dirk or dagger, and he later pleaded no contest to the crime.
Valentino Alvarez will return to court Sept. 26. He is held at Sacramento County Main Jail on $775,000 bail.
CHP investigators say the fatal crash happened about 9:20 p.m. Wednesday. Alvarez and the others were returning from a gathering in Hood after the death earlier that day of 91-year-old Ramona Lujan, relatives told The Bee.
A semi turned from westbound Hood-Franklin Road onto southbound Stone Lake Road just as a car investigators say Alvarez was driving was heading east on Hood-Franklin. Alvarez’s car struck the truck’s trailer, the impact causing the the car to tumble off the roadway and into a fence before it stopped in a field, according to the CHP.