A memorial has been set up in the Visalia neighborhood where a man who tried to break up a fight was run down by a woman accused of being the driver in the fatal hit-and-run.
Police are calling it a homicide.
Killed was Eric Fisher, 35, of Visalia, whose body was dragged for a block.
Fisher’s wife, Alice, saw the car hit her husband, said her sister, Maggie Langford. Alice Fisher and other onlookers, including his 15-year-old daughter, begged the driver to stop, but the car kept going down the street, she said.
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“He was known for his kindness and generosity,” Langford said. “He was that kind of guy.”
Police say the incident happened about 6:15 p.m. Saturday when two men began having an argument on the street in the area of North Conyer Street and West Prospect Avenue.
A man who was walking his dog on Conyer Street south of Prospect was in a verbal altercation with a male passenger in the car, who had gotten out of the car, police said, based on witness accounts.
Fisher walked toward the two men in an attempt to defuse the situation, then walked back toward his house.
The passenger then got into the car with the driver, Chaylin Funez, 18, who made a U-turn and headed north on Conyer.
She started making a slow left turn onto Prospect, then accelerated and struck Fisher with the car.
After the car hit Fisher, it plowed through a chain link fence into a front yard, then the driver backed up into the street and drove west on Prospect, witnesses said.
Fisher’s body had gotten caught on the car and was dragged for a block before being dislodged, police said.
Witnesses told police it looked as though Funez intentionally ran over Fisher, who was taken to the hospital and later died.
Several tips came in to the police department, Sgt. Damon Maurice said.
One tip led police to the car at a home in the 1300 block of West Robin Street. About 1 a.m. Sunday, police got a search warrant and took the car, which had collision damage.
Funez and her male passenger were arrested in the 800 block of West Prospect, near where the hit-and-run happened. The passenger was released for lack of probable cause, police said.
The case is still under investigation and the car will be analyzed for evidence. Police want the man who was walking his dog to contact them, Maurice said.
Funez was arrested on suspicion of homicide and hit and run. The case will be turned over the District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday or Wednesday, Maurice said.
Neighbor Cruz Cervantes described Fisher as “a good person” who welcomed him to the neighborhood when he moved there a year ago.
“He had a good heart,” Cervantes said. “He was nice to my kids. He went to work, came back and kept a roof over his head. He was a friend. He was a cool dude.”
He put up a memorial cross in his yard where Fisher was struck.