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Officers seek driver who struck, killed pedestrian near Rohnert Park

A Santa Rosa man was struck and killed early Saturday near Rohnert Park in what authorities suspect was a hit and run crash.

The CHP identified the victim as Basilio Nathan Garza Jr., 21.

The CHP was searching Saturday for the driver of the vehicle involved in the deadly collision, which was reported at about 4:15 a.m. on Petaluma Hill Road just north of Hunter Lane.

Authorities initially had very little to go on without any witnesses or information about the vehicle's make or model.

“Based on the injuries to the victim, we believe that there should be pretty extensive damage to the car,” CHP Sgt. Ross Ingels said.

A motorist reported the man's body in the roadway after calling 911.

Later that morning, however, a resident on Holly Avenue about two miles from the crash site reported a damaged vehicle parked on her street. The CHP impounded the 1998 Toyota Camry and contacted the registered owner, CHP Lt. Jeff Rhea said.

After interviewing the woman, CHP investigators believe her boyfriend, 33-year-old John Mesker, was the driver, Rhea said. Officers have not located him yet but hope he makes contact with them.

“We're hoping that he will voluntarily come in and give us a statement as to how the collision occurred,” Rhea said.

Ingels said the victim appeared to have been walking on Petaluma Hill when he was struck by a vehicle heading south on the road.

Rhea said Garza got out of a car and began walking after he got into a disagreement with friends he had been riding with.

Ingels said Garza may have consumed alcohol.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the CHP at 551-4100.

(You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 or derek.moore@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @deadlinederek.)

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