The Shafter Press - Serving the community since 1922

By Jamie Stewart
The Shafter Press 

Man denies driving in fatal crash


A man who was involved in a fatal car accident in May has denied being the driver of the vehicle, according to recently filed court documents.

On May 31, Shafter Police were dispatched to Santa Fe Way, just south of Burbank Street, in connection with a rollover accident. Upon arrival, officers found a Shafter man, Miguel Pelayo, 22, at the scene. They also found a man, later identified as Rene Daniel Chavez, 22, also of Shafter, dead.

The documents said officers noticed signs of Pelavo being under the influence. His eyes were bloodshot, his speech was slurred and he emitted an odor of alcohol. Officers also said that Pelayo was walking unsteadily. Investigating further, officers noticed that Pelayo also showed signs of being under the influence of marijuana. He had an elevated heart rate, a green coating on his tongue and dilated pupils.

Pelayo was arrested at the scene for suspicion of being under the influence. In the court documents, Pelayo denes that he was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident. The Toyota Tacoma that was involved in the accident is a stick shift – which Pelavo said he doesn’t know how to operate -- and he said that he was not driving the truck.

Investigators later talked to Pelayo’s father and found out that his son had been using the truck for the past several weeks. He also said that Pelayo could drive a stick shift and that he was driving the truck the afternoon before the crash.

Police then spoke to the father of Chavez, who told officers that his son did not know how to drive a stick shift. A series of field sobriety tests performed on Pelayo indicated that he was intoxicated, but a preliminary test indicated his blood-alcohol content was 0.04%, below the state legal limit of 0.08%.

Pelayo was freed from custody and was not charged. The investigation is ongoing.


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