Hit-and-run driver identified, had signs of intoxication, police say

SAN BENITO — The man who spurred a manhunt Monday afternoon has been identified and formally charged.

Roel Rodriguez Rivera, 22, of Alamo was found in a sugar cane field hours after a hit-and-run crash and arrested.

He had signs of being intoxicated and consented to a breath test, which he blew well over the legal limit of 0.08 blood-alcohol concentration, police said.

Rivera was arraigned by Judge David Garza on two third-degree felonies for intoxication assault and accident involving injury. Bond was set at $20,000.

Around 1:19 p.m., officers were called to the intersection of FM 509 and FM 800 where a beige-colored van had collided with an 18-wheeler.

Rivera then fled the scene, police said.

“The driver of the beige van fled on foot and into a canal bank leaving his passenger inside the vehicle. Several witnesses saw the male get out of the van and gave a description to officers,” police said.

San Benito Assistant Police Chief Michael Galvan said the van ran a stop sign and collided with the 18-wheeler.

The van slid under the tractor-trailer rig and hit the last axle, “clobbering” the van, Galvan said.

He said the man continued driving after being hit. Police said he eventually stopped the vehicle and ran away from the scene on foot, staggering and possibly injured.

Their primary concern at the time was finding Rivera and giving him medical attention.

Shortly after the accident, San Benito and Harlingen police, along with U.S. Border Patrol officers and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers, spent several hours looking for Rivera.

A female passenger was taken to Valley Baptist Medical Center. Her injuries were not immediately known. The driver of the 18-wheeler is fine.

At around 3:30 p.m., Rivera was located inside a nearby sugar cane field by a Border Patrol dog unit He had minor injuries and refused medical attention.

An immigration detainer was placed on him pending investigation by the Department of Homeland Security.