San Diego DUI criminal defense attorneys have again learned California Highway Patrol is changing its story in another San Diego County DUI story. This time, the CHP is reconsidering its allegations that a Carlsbad man stole the purse of a pregnant woman killed in a rollover crash on Interstate 5.
Mark Christopher Struk, 31, of Carlsbad was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of felony grand theft. The CHP had said witnesses saw Struk’s Subaru station wagon stop on the freeway near the crash scene. The CHP had said a woman got out and grabbed the purse lying on the road before the pair drove off.
Now the CHP says the purse was a wallet, and it was never actually taken from the crash scene. And Struk’s account of returning it fits with what a Marine at the scene says he witnessed.
“Someone . . . drove by and yelled to us, ‘Hey, I found this purse. I think it belongs to someone in the car,’ dropped it out the window and left,” Marine Cpl. Solomon Huss told KNSD, Channel 7/39 in an interview broadcast Thursday night.
Huss, who is also a Los Angeles police officer, and two other Marines were assisting victims of the crash, which killed Yine Erandy Gonzalez Angeles, 24, when the Ford Explorer she was in rolled over.
Huss said a man resembling Struk dropped the purse about 20 feet from where he was standing. Huss said Struk should be thanked for trying to secure the item.
When he was released from jail Wednesday, Struk told reporters in a brief interview that he was “completely innocent” and had been “a good Samaritan” by dropping the purse off at the crash scene. He could not be reached yesterday.
A CHP spokesman initially said investigators did not believe Struk’s story and were still looking for the purse.
Yesterday, however, the CHP issued a statement that “an additional witness has just come forward and provided further information that partially corroborates” Struk’s account, and that the wallet – not a purse – was found inside the wrecked Ford Explorer.
CHP Officer Mark Latulippe said investigators now assume someone could have put the wallet in the Explorer after Struk shouted to the Marines and dropped it out his window.
About $400 and two passports are missing from the wallet, Latulippe said, and Struk remains a suspect in the theft of those items. How it was determined they were in the wallet was unclear.
The case will be forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office to determine if any charges will be filed, the statement said.
The CHP has said it has interviewed Struk’s female passenger. She hasn’t been arrested.
The Explorer was struck from behind by a Nissan Altima driven by John Francis Sudac Jr., 27, of Carlsbad about 1 a.m. Sunday, authorities say. The wallet was apparently thrown from the vehicle.
Sudac allegedly fled the scene and turned himself in about 18 hours later, authorities said. He was booked on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, hit-and-run, felony DUI causing death, and marijuana possession. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.
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