Hit-and-run driver faces murder charges

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A hit-and-run suspect captured in Los Altos Hills who admitted to intentionally striking two Sunnyvale pedestrians with his car has been charged with murder.

According to Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Angela Bernhard, 45-year-old Brian Rathjen told police he targeted Edgar Quiroz, 59, and Camille Beaumont, 64, with his Acura Integra while they were in the crosswalk at Hollenbeck Avenue March 31. Quiroz was taken off life support and died April 2. Beaumont remains in a medically induced coma at Stanford Hospital.

“What he indicated in his statement (to police) was that he intended to hit the pedestrians in the crosswalk,” Bernhard said.

Bernhard said Rathjen’s motive wasn’t clear but noted that the San Jose resident had no previous connection to the two victims.

Rathjen was arraigned in Santa Clara County Superior Court in Palo Alto April 4 on several additional counts, including single counts of assault with a deadly weapon for hitting Beaumont, vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and hit-and-run driving causing property damage.

He also faces two counts of hit-and-run resulting in permanent serious injury or death, as well as four counts of battery on a peace officer for being combative with Sunnyvale officers while in custody. One officer suffered a thumb injury in the scuffle. Rathjen’s bail was set at $1 million, according to Bernhard.

Rathjen fled the scene after striking Quiroz and Beaumont with his vehicle at approximately 12:21 p.m. March 31. Several minutes later, he collided with an SUV while driving northbound in the southbound lanes of Foothill Expressway at the Main Street intersection, Los Altos Police agent Mark Bautista said.

The collision left his Acura inoperable, and Rathjen fled the accident on foot, making his way into Los Altos Hills through Shoup Park. He hid in a resident’s yard but later called 911 and turned himself in after hearing police K9 units approaching, according to Bautista.

The driver of the SUV, a female from Cupertino, complained of chest pains at the scene of the accident and was taken to El Camino Hospital for treatment.

Bernhard said Rathjen’s next court date is set for Friday, at which time she expects the court to appoint a public defender. He is not expected to enter a plea at that time, she added.

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