Hwy 126: Hit & run driver injures four in two vehicles, suspect arrested

January 10, 2003
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesA high-speed driver struck two cars that landed upside down after tumbling down a steep embankment off Highway 126 on Saturday in a hit-and-run accident that injured several people. A witness followed the hit and run driver to a Hallock Driver car dealership where he was arrested, according to CHP Officer Steven Reid.The Jan. 11th crash occurred at about 2:11 p.m. just east of the Briggs Road overpass.The hit-and-run driver was traveling at a high rate of speed on eastbound Highway 126 when he attempted to pass two other vehicles while straddling the centerline between the fast and slow lanes, noted Officer Reid.Driving a 1998 Ford Ranger, Clifton Wilkins, 69, and his passenger, 75-year-old Carmen Wilkins, both of Fillmore, had been traveling eastbound in the slow lane when a 1996 GEO Prism driven in the fast lane by Obaidullah Halimi, 36, of Ventura approached Wilkins vehicle from behind. When Halimi - whose passenger was pregnant Lailoma Asad Halimi, 34, also of Ventura - got within one-half car length of Wilkins vehicle, a 1990 Mazda came up behind him at an estimated 85 mph and tried to pass between Wilkins and Halimi’s vehicles by straddling the center-line.“Halimi swerved left into the gravel center divider to avoid being hit by the Mazda,” said Officer Reid, and the Mazda kept going past them at a high rate of speed.Halimi lost control on the gravel center-divider, came back onto the pavement and into Wilkins’ lane, striking the front of his vehicle.The two vehicles skidded off the road together, struck the curb, and tumbled down a 28-foot embankment and overturned, landing on their roofs. During the crash, the “Peck Road Next Exit” sign was felled.The driver of the Mazda sped off but was being followed by a witness who followed the vehicle to Hallock Drive & Highway 126 and called the CHP.
Other witnesses who stopped at the accident scene followed CHP Officer Fred Baskin where they identified the driver and his Mazda.Rafael Ruiz, 20, of Oxnard was arrested for reckless driving causing injury and felony hit and run causing injury, said Officer Reid.All the injured victims were treated on scene by Santa Paula and Ventura county fire department personnel and transported to area hospitals: Obaidullah Halimi had neck pain and seatbelt bruising and his wife had cuts to her scalp and a contused forehead.“Doctors at VCMC indicated that there did not appear to be any threat to the life of her unborn child,” said Officer Reid, and the vehicle’s other passenger, the Halimi’s 23 month old son who was strapped in a car seat, was not injured.Clifton Wilkins had lacerations on both arms and Carmen Wilkins had fractured left ribs, contused head and a bruised spleen.

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