A West Valley man with a history of speeding and driving on a revoked license has been charged in connection with a fatal hit-and-run crash in southern Utah last week.
Joe Emanuel Hernandez, 20, was charged Tuesday in 5th District Court with negligent homicide, a class A misdemeanor; failing to remain at an accident involving death and making a false insurance claim, third-degree felonies; and driving on a denied license, a class C misdemeanor.
On April 6, about 9:45 p.m., police were called to 1086 W. Red Cliffs Drive in Washington on a report of a man on the road who had apparently been hit by a car, according to charging documents. The man, whose name has not been released, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Detectives found surveillance videos from businesses in the area that showed the victim stepping off the sidewalk to start crossing the street and being hit, possibly by an SUV, the charges state. While investigating the crash, a witness approached police to say she had been on the same road prior to the crash, about two blocks away, when a red SUV went "through the red light at a high rate of speed. She stated that the vehicle continued traveling at a high rate of speed driving toward where the individual was struck and killed," according to the charges.
On Saturday, a woman contacted police claiming she had information about the incident. She said she knew another woman who was allegedly in the car with Hernandez, who told her that "they struck someone on the roadway" and "that they drove away without stopping," the charges state.
Upon learning Hernandez was the alleged driver, police then found out that he was issued a citation by St. George police the day before the crash for allegedly going 97 mph in a 70 mph zone, according to the charges, as well as driving on a suspended license. He was driving a red SUV when he was pulled over in St. George, the charges state.
Police in southern Utah then contacted West Valley police and asked officers to check the address where Hernandez's vehicle is registered. Police did not initially find the SUV at the address.
"However, officers with West Valley City did advise that they are very familiar with Joe and he has had several police interactions where he is the suspect involving violent crimes. It was also found that he is awaiting trial on charges involving a hit-and-run accident with property damage where he is the suspect in the Salt Lake County area. It was also relayed to officers that Joe is a registered gang member," the charges state.
On Monday, members of the Salt Lake County Fugitive Task Force located Hernandez's red SUV in the backyard of his residence. Police also learned that Hernandez had contacted his insurance company, claiming that the front-end damage on his vehicle was caused by hitting a deer, according to the charges.
According to court records, Hernandez was also charged in February with being a restricted person in possession of a gun. In 2022 he was convicted three times of speeding and driving on a revoked license, court records state. Additionally, he was charged in connection with a hit-and-run crash in 2022. Hernandez also has more than a half-dozen more cases of speeding and driving on a revoked license dating back to 2019.