Suspect charged in deadly hit-and-run on N. Bendix Drive in South Bend surrenders to police

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(Photo supplied/St. Joseph County Jail)

UPDATE:  Joel Barrozo turned himself in at the St. Joseph County Jail on Monday afternoon was booked in to the jail. He is scheduled to appear in court at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 18, for his arraignment and initial bail hearing.

Barrozo is charged with two counts of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, a level 5 felony and three counts of leaving the scene of an accident with serious bodily injury, a level 6 felony.

(Photo supplied/ABC 57)

ORIGINAL STORY: A suspect has been charged in connection with the hit-and-run crash in which two people were killed and three others were injured at N. Bendix Drive and W. Lathrop Street in South Bend. However, the suspect has not yet been taken into custody, as of late Monday morning.

The collision happened around 6:15 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 16.

Tim Spencer, the commander of the St. Joseph County Fatal Crash Team, says the crash occurred when the car the two suspects were in struck the rear of the victims’ car, causing it to spin into oncoming traffic and be struck by a third vehicle.

Investigators are looking for Joel Barrozo, who they say caused the crash.

Authorities were able to secure images of Barrozo that were taken at a nearby gas station just before the collision occurred. Police also received a search warrant for the 2011 Dodge Avenger that Barrozo was allegedly driving and found a pay stub in the vehicle that identified him.

St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter says officers made contact with Barrozo’s mother on Sunday night. They say she called her son and told him to talk to police.

Investigators are looking into a possible second person who may have been with Barrazo, Cotter said.

The victims who died are identified as mother and son, Marvi Thomas, 27, and Christopher Poe, 9.

Two of the three who were hurt underwent surgery. A 17-month-old girl remains in critical condition. The other two are in serious condition, as of late Monday morning, Cotter said.

Investigators are still looking into the circumstances that led to the collision. Cotter thanked members of the public who stopped to help after the crash took place.

The car Barrozo was allegedly driving was reported to be stolen out of Illinois, but it’s not known whether Barrozo knew the vehicle had been stolen, Cotter said.

The following information was released by the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office:

Joel Barrozo, 30, has been charged in a five count information in connection with a three car fatal hit and run crash that occurred on December 16, 2018, in the area of W. Lathrop and N. Bendix, South Bend. He has been charged with:

  • Count I: Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Death a Level 5 Felony
  • Count II: Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Death a Level 5 Felony
  • Count III: Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Serious Bodily Injury a Level 6 Felony
  • Count IV: Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Serious Bodily Injury a Level 6 Felony
  • Count V: Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Serious Bodily Injury a Level 6 Felony

Probable cause was found. Defendant was ordered held without bond until the next available bail hearing after the warrant is served. At this time, he has not been taken into custody.

Anyone with information regarding this accident or Mr. Barrozo’s whereabouts is asked to call FACT at 259-2966.

Additionally, anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Joel Barrozo can contact Michiana Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip. If your tip leads to the arrest of Mr. Barrozo, you could receive a cash reward.

Crime Stoppers can be reached at 574-288-STOP and/or 800-342-STOP.

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