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José “Fernando” Meraz-Balico (Photo courtesy of Troop F )
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Connecticut State Police have identified a suspect in the Christmas Eve hit-and-run incident that resulted in the death of a bicyclist on Spencer Plains Road in Westbrook.
A warrant has been issued for the arrest of José “Fernando” Meraz-Balico who, according to investigating officer Trooper Benjamin Borelli of Connecticut State Police Troop F in Westbrook, has been “positively identified as operator of that motor vehicle on that night.”
“We’ve gotten some good evidence, which led us to an arrest warrant for three charges: manslaughter in the second degree with a motor vehicle, operating under the influence of alcohol, and...evading the scene,” Borelli said. “It is an extraditable arrest warrant, which means if we find him out of state, we can bring him back here from certain areas.”
Borelli was assisted in the investigation by Detective James McGlynn, he said.
“[T]he Central District Crime Squad had their van come out, which is what they process evidence with, which is the car that we seized [and] the bicycle,” he explained. “And then we had the Collision Analysis Reconstruction Squad come in,” using the measurements Borelli took at the crime scene to reconstruct what happened.
An appeal to the public for help posted on the Troop F Facebook page on Jan. 23 stated that “Meraz-Balico has ties to both Westbrook and Deep River...but also could be traveling to New York or the Carolinas. It’s also believed that Meraz-Balico could have fled the country to Honduras.”
“At this time, his location’s unknown,” Borelli said. “We’ve been looking for him. We haven’t heard from him. He hasn’t come to us in any manner, so that’s why we’re reaching out to the public’s assistance and trying to locate him.”
Borelli declined to say how the police identified Meraz-Balico.
“As soon as he’s apprehended, we are mandated to put out the arrest warrant with the press release,” he said. “When that happens, there’s going to be a lot of stuff learned.”
Cyclist John Ingalls, 36, an Old Saybrook native who resided in Essex, was struck by a vehicle and thrown from his bicycle; the vehicle that hit him did not stop. He was transported to Yale New Haven Hospital by Westbrook emergency services and died the following Saturday, Dec. 28.
Police, who were called to the scene at around 4:50 p.m. on Dec. 24, previously said they believed Ingalls and the driver of the vehicle were traveling in the same direction—westbound—and that Ingalls was struck from behind. A car part was discovered at the scene that led police to believe that the vehicle that struck Ingalls was a gray or silver 2007 to ‘09 Acura MDX.
Anyone with information about Meraz-Balico’s whereabouts is asked to contact Troop F in Westbrook at 860-399-2100.
Get ready to celebrate the holidays with our helpful guide