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Details Revealed in Fatal Hit-and-Run Case

Simon Chavez’s Toxicology Report and Narrative of Events Released


Monday, May 13, 2013
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The hours and days following the death of Simon Chavez — killed on Highway 101 in a hit-and-run accident January 15 — were filled with questions, confusion, and grief. Four months later, the man who ran into Chavez then fled the scene is behind bars, friends and family of the beloved 22-year-old baseball coach continue to cope with their loss, and a somewhat clearer picture of what happened that night is emerging this week with the release of Chavez’s toxicology report.

Simon Chavez
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Simon Chavez

While some of the initial questions surrounding the incident are finally answered in the pages of the Sheriff’s Department report, other findings — known only to the California Highway Patrol, which was the lead agency on the case — remain unavailable despite multiple requests for information in that office’s now-closed case file.

According to the toxicology report, Chavez began drinking with friends at one of their homes on the evening of January 14 to celebrate a buddy’s upcoming departure for school. They then made their way to Dargan’s Irish Pub & Restaurant before ending up at the Uptown Lounge. “While [Chavez] was at Uptown Lounge,” the report reads, “he was noted as being heavily intoxicated by friends and bar staff. His eyes were rolling back in his head and he fell off of the bar stool he had been sitting on.”

A taxi was called for Chavez shortly after midnight, and it picked him up at 12:25 a.m. But on the way to his home, Chavez exited the cab when it stopped at De la Vina and Carrillo streets. It’s not clear why he got out of the car at that location, but the report reads, “No sign of foul play or anything suspicious was noted.”

At 1:04 a.m., the CHP’s 9-1-1 switchboard started lighting up with calls of a man walking along the number 2 and 3 lanes of southbound Highway 101. A few minutes later, Chavez was fatally struck by a 78-year-old Murietta man named Lau Van Huynh who was driving back from a 13-hour stint at the Chumash Casino. Chavez was declared dead at the scene “due to obvious fatal trauma,” the report says, and the official cause of death was listed as “multiple blunt force trauma.” The accident scene was described as just south of the Carrillo Street undercrossing. No illicit drugs were found in Chavez’s system, but his blood-alcohol level registered 0.256.

Lau Van Huynh leaves the courtroom after he's sentenced to three years of probation and 365 days in jail
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Paul Wellman

Lau Van Huynh leaves the courtroom after he’s sentenced to three years of probation and 365 days in jail

Huynh, who was eventually tracked to his Murietta home with the help of surveillance camera footage, pleaded no contest to felony hit-and-run in March and was sentenced last month to three years of probation and 365 days in jail. Huynh’s arrest came after he and family members intentionally stalled the CHP’s investigation and attempted to cover up his involvement in the accident. During the sentencing hearing, Chavez’s family members faulted Huynh for not stopping or calling 9-1-1 after the collision, but they remembered Chavez as a loving, down-to-earth brother, son, and cousin who will be greatly missed by many. “My cousin Simon was a huge part of this family, and he will always be with us,” said cousin Jesse Martinez.

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So sad. If Chavez were one of my friends and showing those kinds of symptoms, I would have driven him home and made sure he got in the door.

0.256 is like having 8-9 shots or glasses of wine in one hour for a 160-lb male.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 9:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"While some of the initial questions surrounding the incident are finally answered in the pages of the Sheriff’s Department report, other findings — known only to the California Highway Patrol, which was the lead agency on the case — remain unavailable despite multiple requests for information in that office’s now-closed case file."

Who pays the salaries for law enforcement? A: We do. What arrogance that they take our tax dollars then withhold information from the public. For us in the private sector, if we were asked a question about an incident related to our jobs and we refused to answer, guess what?...we'd be rightfully fired on the spot. This "confidentiality" approach is a slap in our faces. So much for transparency in government.

"Chavez exited the cab when it stopped at De La Vina and Carillo streets. It’s not clear why he got out of the car at that location"

Because he was so impaired his judgment was gone.

Think about all the lives that have been affected by the bad choices of Chavez and Van Huynh and how (sigh) the never-ending glorification of the alcohol culture resulted in people experiencing the worst thing anyone can experience: The loss of a child.

Lots of lessons to be learned here.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
May 14, 2013 at 3:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If Huynh had simply stayed at the scene he would not be in jail and there would have been no trial(with the assumption that he was not drunk).
What a bizarre case; and now the CHP will not release the details?

Agree EB. Although you have to admit that once their friend was in a cab his friends had every logical expectation that he would remain in the cab until he arrived home.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
May 14, 2013 at 6:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

italiansurg: Why do you think the CHP is withholding the information that witnesses saw Chavez pushed out of a vehicle on the freeway? Why did Chavez's NP obit mention LE plans for additional arrests? Is it possible that Huynh, an old Vietnamese man from out of town, was sober and assumed he wouldn't have a reasonable chance in SB court? He sure could have been drunk, but he drove close to 100 miles further with no incident, so DUI doesn't seem a likely explanation for hitting Chavez.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
May 14, 2013 at 3:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If he was hammered and was going down DLV at that time, maybe he wanted to go to Mel's which is where he got out of the cab. Then when he either hung out there or did not get served he walked home on the south side of Carrillo, and tried using the freeway onramp short cut to Canon Perdido. Not sure where he lived, but this would explain his change of plans mid taxi ride

skaterspoint (anonymous profile)
May 14, 2013 at 7:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

skaterspoint, that truly is the very first explanation that makes any sense at all.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 14, 2013 at 7:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

A friend got so drunk, after he got dropped off at home, he ended up passed out in the jacuzzi. His housemates arrived later and pulled him out before he drowned. He later said he couldn't unlock the door and it was cold!

Another friend got dropped off after doing the State Street Crawl, inexplicably ended up going through a window to get in, and passed out in the LV. Lucky he didn't bleed to death.

Moral is ... get your wasted friends in the door, on the couch, and put a mixing bowl or bucket on the floor near their head.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
May 14, 2013 at 9:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The victim in this tale is Mr. Huynh. He happened to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time. I really do not understand how any judge could sentence him to anything other than community service. I don't think he should do one day in jail. It's not his fault this alcohol-swilling 1/2-brain dead idiot was stumbling around on the highway.

This has got to be one of the biggest miscarriages of justice ever, in the hit-and-run category.

chilldrinfthenight (anonymous profile)
May 14, 2013 at 10:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

This is so sad for all involved. I hope the lessons shared will be that no one should ever get so drunk that they are a danger to themselves and/or others. I too lost a friend who was so drunk he fell off a bar stool, hit his head, and died. Getting wasted is truly beyond my understanding.

Becky (anonymous profile)
May 15, 2013 at 11:29 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@chilldrenfthenight: He's in jail because he (unfortunately) hit a human being (also unfortunately stupidly drunk) and LEFT THE SCENE. If you're not yet aware of it, there's a law (or probably a few, considering this is THE Nanny State) that says leaving the scene of a hit and run is illegal, therefor, he broke that law.

MotoBella (anonymous profile)
May 15, 2013 at 2:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

PS: I'll bet the next law we'll see is "passenger doors to remain locked in all taxi's until arrival at the first requested destination" with penalties for changing your mind.

MotoBella (anonymous profile)
May 15, 2013 at 2:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Seems more like the Billy Goat's Gruff state to me but anyways, now that we have details one can't help but feel sorry for the cabbie who probably deals with endless drunks all night. If he hadn't let Chavez out, he could've been accused of kidnapping.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 15, 2013 at 2:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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