hit and run

Suspected Driver in “Party Bus” Hit-and-Run Released on Bail

Efren Virgen was crossing a street early Saturday when a party bus hit him before taking off

A driver suspected of being behind the wheel of a party bus that dragged a man more than 200 feet, leaving him clinging to life, has been released on $50,000 bail.

Tommy Anthony Gutierrez, 37, of City Terrace, surrendered to detectives at the Norwalk Sheriff Station, on Tuesday. He was booked into jail on charges of felony hit and run and driving on a suspended license, and was released later in the day.

On the advice of his attorney, he gave no statement, deputies said. He is expected to make a court appearance on Thursday, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department online inmate record site.

The suspect was identified Monday by several people who were on the bus at the time of the incident and by the owner of the bus. The witnesses came forward due to the media coverage, deputies said.

Efren Virgen Jr., 26, of Norwalk, was hit by a black party bus while he was walking on Fairford Avenue south of Ratliffe Street about 2:30 a.m. Saturday. A witness said the bus, which had flashing interior neon lights and loud music playing inside, turned onto a road and out of view after the crash, deputies said.

Witnesses reported that the driver may have swerved to avoid Virgen but ended up hitting him.

Deputies said the owner of the black Ford E-450 bus, rented out by groups for special events, came forward Monday and was cooperating in the investigation, deputies said. The bus was being held as evidence in a tow yard, authorities said.

Virgen, a married father of two daughters who drives a garbage truck for the city of Long Beach, came out of a coma and off life support Sunday, said his brother, Sam. 

"My brother does not really remember anything," Sam Virgen said. "He's mumbling. He's finally out of the coma and finally off of life support. It looks like he's going to pull through."

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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