BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Shortly after midnight on Nov. 19, an Infiniti G37 and Honda Civic raced west on Stockdale Highway at speeds that topped 100 mph, according to police.
As they approached Renfro Road, the Civic attempted to pass a third vehicle and sideswiped it, police said. The Civic lost control and hit a traffic signal pole, fatally injuring the driver and a passenger.
Nathan Valencia, the Infiniti’s driver, said he heard a loud “boom” and saw smoke when he looked back, according to newly-released court documents. He pulled a U-turn and stopped around the corner from the crash. While parked, he texted a friend about what happened.
But he didn’t tell police.
It wasn’t until a month later, after friends alerted him police were circulating surveillance images of him and his car, that Valencia showed up at Bakersfield Police Department headquarters.
“(Valencia) stated he left the scene and never spoke with officers because he was scared of getting his vehicle impounded because he does not possess a valid driver’s license,” police wrote in the reports.
Valencia, 30, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree murder and other charges related to the crash. He’s held on $2 million bail and is due back in court next month.
According to the documents, Valencia told investigators he was speeding but not racing when the crash occurred. Police, however, said witness statements and evidence at the scene indicated both vehicles were barreling along Stockdale Highway at speeds of 100 mph or more and that Valencia initiated the race.
Multiple videos of Valencia engaging in illegal speed races were found on his cellphone, the documents say. It appeared numerous phones calls and text messages had been deleted.
Investigators examined the Infiniti and found illegal modifications to increase its speed, the documents say.
In recommending murder charges, police said Valencia “decided to (race) with conscious disregard for the probable outcomes of the activity and drove his vehicle with a willful and wanton disregard for his safety and the safety of others.”
Carmen Romero Vidal, 23, a passenger in the Civic was taken to a hospital where she was declared dead. An autopsy determined she died from blunt force trauma.
The driver, whose name was not available, was pronounced dead Nov. 21, with cause of death determined to be brain death resulting from the crash, the documents say.