PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The 35-year-old man who struck a 24-year-old man in Southeast Portland over the weekend apologized for leaving the scene.
Speaking by phone on Monday, hours before his first court appearance, Fernando Cuevas Jr. told KOIN 6 News he deeply regrets his decision to continue driving Saturday after hitting Hussain Ahmed Alhamzah as he exited his parked vehicle near the intersection of SE 122nd Avenue and Liebe Street.
Alhamzah died after being rushed to a Portland hospital.
“It was just a really bad accident,” Cuevas said. “I feel so stupid for leaving the scene.”
Cuevas’ girlfriend was inside the vehicle with him when the crash happened.
He said they work together in the construction industry and that they were heading to another job site when they became lost.
Cuevas said the streets were “narrow” and that Alhamzah “just jumped out” in front of his van.
“I just panicked,” Cuevas said. “I didn’t even see it coming.”
Cuevas maintains that he was not under the influence of any intoxicants and claims that he passed all of the field sobriety tests that were given to him by police.
“I regret it so much,” he said.
According to court records, Cuevas has been convicted of 1 felony and 5 misdemeanors. His only offense in Oregon was a 2011 DUII. Records show that he completed an alcohol treatment program in 2013.
As for why he fled the scene, Cuevas said he was “confused and scared.”
Police said Cuevas continued traveling northbound on Southeast 122nd Avenue. Officers located his vehicle in the area of Southeast 140th Avenue and Holgate.
“When the crash happened I kept going, he said “I accelerated.”
Cuevas said he and his girlfriend knew that they needed to stop and go back to the scene.
“I wanted to do the right thing,” Cuevas said.
By the time he stopped, Cuevas said police had already found him.
Cuevas said that had he stopped at the scene immediately after the crash, officers told him he likely would not have been arrested.
Cuevas was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center. He was later released from jail and cited to appear in court on Monday.
As of Monday, Cuevas has only been charged with hit and run and reckless driving. He has not been criminally charged with Alhamzah’s death. Police said the case will be forwarded over to the DA’s Office.