Police identify driver of car involved in fatal hit-and-run

Lawrence police have identified the driver of a car involved in a hit-and-run accident that killed a 20-year-old woman early the morning of Oct. 16 as she was riding her bicycle on Tennessee Street.

Police said Friday that Joel Cedric Hernandez, 21, Lawrence, was driving a 2001 Pontiac Grand Am south on Tennessee Street that struck Rachel Leek, who was riding her bicycle in the east lane of the one-way street. Leek was taken by air ambulance to Stormont-Vail Regional Health Care Center in Topeka, where she later died.

The accident occurred about 2:20 a.m. just south of 10th Street, in an area police indicated was dark and had no street lights.

Police said they believe Hernandez, a sophomore student at Haskell Indian Nations University, was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident, though a report indicates no impairment test was given when he was located.

“Hernandez made no apparent attempt to stop and render aid to Leek or report the accident to law enforcement,” Lawrence police officer James Welsh said in a report.

In a news release, police said no one has been arrested, but accident reports will be forwarded to the Douglas County district attorney’s office for review as soon as the investigation is completed.

“The DA will be in charge of deciding whether and if an arrest warrant is issued,” said Kim Murphree, police spokeswoman. The DA’s office spokeswoman said Friday that the office has received nothing on this case.

Police have not said what information they’re waiting on, in order to complete their investigation.

Investigating officers said the vehicle Hernandez was driving, which was located with a shattered windshield, belonged to one of two Lawrence women riding in the car at the time of the accident.

A police report said at least one violation by Leek also contributed to the accident. An officer said it appeared her bicycle didn’t have a rear or front reflector and that each pedal was also missing a reflector.

Officers are waiting on impairment test results to come back for Leek, but the police report said there was no evidence that she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Leek’s boyfriend, Kansas University student Sam Goodell, said Leek had been at a downtown club dancing and was on the way to a friend’s Tennessee Street house when she was hit and killed.