ONTARIO, Calif. – The man riding a bicycle and struck by a vehicle that fled the scene has been identified.
On July 31, 2019, Thomas Shane Pinto, 23, was riding his bike because his car recently broke down. A family friend, Nina Russell said that Thomas enjoyed church very much and was likely returning from a church event or visiting a friend.
“He also love family and friends,” said Russell. “He had a great energy for life. He had a huge heart would do anything to help others. When he would meet strangers or friends he always greet everyone with a smile and hug.”
Thomas met a young Indonesian woman online and for months the two connected online. After several months Thomas and his girlfriend arranged to meet. Thomas recently visited her, and to show his commitment by giving her an engagement ring. Thomas also had just accepted a job at UPS that he was excited to start. All this was ended by a driver who struck him, then left him lying on the ground. It is unclear how long Thomas was lying on the roadway near Mission Boulevard and Baker Avenue when found at 1:10 a.m. Ontario Police and emergency medical personnel arrived and pronounced him deceased at the scene at around 1:19 p.m.
At around 2:35 a.m. officers received a report of a suspicious vehicle in front of a home in the 1300 block of South Baker Street. When officers arrived they found 31-year-old Julio Tapia in the vehicle bleeding from his face and his head. The vehicle was believed to be involved in the earlier hit and run collision due to the front-end damage.
Tapia was taken into custody for felony driving under the influence, hit and run, and gross vehicular manslaughter. He was released from custody on Friday, August 2, 2019, at 9:42 p.m., without any charges formally filed at this time.
His friends and his family do not understand why the man who they believed killed Thomas because of his drunken driving was released from jail. They do not understand why the damaged vehicle, with damage consistent with the scene of the collision was not enough evidence to hold Julio Tapia. “Never in my life could I ever imagine, a drunk driver killing someone fleeing the scene, end up getting released from jail to himself two days after killing my son,” said Nikki Nez, Thomas’ mother. Meanwhile, Thomas’ family is mourning the loss of their son, brother, nephew, grandson, and friend.
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