Driver in pedestrian accident faces up to 10 years |

Driver in pedestrian accident faces up to 10 years

Staff Reports

A 27-year-old Gardnerville woman faces up to 10 years in prison after she admitted striking a pedestrian with her pickup truck and leaving him injured on the side of the road.

Melissa Rose Hernandez pleaded guilty Tuesday to attempted failure to stop at the scene of an accident involving personal injury or death stemming from the July 22 accident near Lutheran Bridge in Gardnerville.

The victim, 32-year-old Cayle Hanson, suffered a ruptured spleen. He lay on the road for nearly half an hour before two teenage boys saw him and called 911 for help.

In exchange for Hernandez guilty’s plea, the district attorney’s office agreed to recommend 12-36 months in Nevada State Prison, suspended. They are free to argue for jail time as part of probation.

Hernandez told District Judge Dave Gamble she “caught a glimpse” of something before she hit Hanson, but thought it was an animal.

“I thought it was an animal. I thought it was a deer. It turned out to be a human being,” Hernandez said.

“I heard a bang and my mirror was gone,” she said. “It didn’t affect my driving and I kept driving.”

She told Gamble she didn’t contact authorities or return to the scene.

“I had just purchased my truck and I was kind of upset I got it damaged,” she said. “I called my boyfriend.”

The boys called 911 and Hanson was taken by CareFlight to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno where he was treated for seven broken ribs, a torn spleen, fractured arm, dislocated shoulder and a punctured lung.

He was released after several days in intensive care and has medical bills totaling more than $100,000.

After a story appeared on The Record-Courier’s Web site Aug. 4 about the accident and the search for the driver, the highway patrol received an anonymous tip about Hernandez.

Troopers transported Hanson to Hernandez’s workplace where they matched up his injuries to the damage on her vehicle. Hanson’s wife also retrieved a broken side mirror from the accident site that matched one missing from Hernandez’s vehicle.

Gamble set sentencing for Jan. 5.