OAKLAND, Tenn. — Police say they have a “person of interest” after a fatal hit-and-run accident killed an employee at El Nopal Mexican restaurant in Oakland, Tennessee.
Juan Bartolo, 20, was riding his bike on Highway 64 after getting off work when he was struck by a vehicle Thursday.
“I came out from work and I saw my brother laying down in the street, in the middle of the street. That’s when I realized something had happened,” said his brother Diego Velasquez, speaking through an interpreter.
“As I unzipped his jacket, I was holding him and I was trying to see if he would speak to me, but he couldn’t. Blood started coming out and that’s when he realized there wasn’t much that could be done,” Valsquez said.
Bartolo died a short time later.
He had been working at El Nopal with his brother for about seven months, making money to support his wife and young daughter back in Guatemala.
“He was a very peaceful man. He was a very hard working man,” Velasquez said.
What has Bartolo’s family and friends most upset is the driver who struck the victim didn’t stop to help. Instead, they say he called police with a bizarre story, saying he thought he had struck a deer.
“We just wish he could have stopped to confirm it was a deer he had hit,” said Helida Rivera with El Nopal. “We think he could have helped by stopping and calling for help at the moment.”
Oakland police wouldn’t release the accident report but told us that Charles Burch is a “person of interest” in the fatal crash.
Burch was arrested Friday and charged with vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of an accident and DUI. He posted bond Friday and is out of jail. Burch has court date of Jan. 27, 2020 in Fayette County General Sessions Court.
No one answered the door Monday at the address where Burch reportedly lives.
Bartolo’s brother feels the system is failing a grieving family separated by thousands of miles.
“He’s out now and I’m not clearly seeing what justice is going to do,” he said.