BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A man charged in a deadly hit-and-run crash was granted entry Tuesday to a mental health diversion program after a judge found he had a qualifying diagnosis, and a report from county Veterans Affairs said they believe he’ll respond to treatment.
The case against Jerry “Genaro” Aguirre will be dismissed if he successfully completes the terms of the program and follows court orders, among them attending counseling sessions and medical and psychiatric appointments, and taking any prescribed medications. He must stay out of trouble.
Aguirre, 70 at the time, admitted to driving a silver BMW sedan that hit a pedestrian at the intersection of Fourth Street and Chester Avenue the night of Nov. 3, 2022, according to a court filing. He told police he left the scene after briefly pulling over.
The injured man, Charles William Egan, 41, was taken to Kern Medical, where he died the next day.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Aguirre’s attorney, John Underwood, told Judge Elizabet Rodriguez his client served in the Vietnam War and returned to an environment where post-traumatic stress disorder wasn’t as widely recognized, and where he wasn’t encouraged to get treatment.
It’s “very reasonable,” Underwood said, to believe the crash triggered a PTSD episode resulting in a fight-or-flight response.
Prosecutor Kacie Barrier opposed diversion, saying the PTSD diagnosis hadn’t been sufficiently explained.
According to the court filing, surveillance video captured the BMW pulling over and briefly stopping before leaving. Police linked the car to Aguirre and found a BMW with a shattered windshield parked in his driveway.
Court records show Aguirre has convictions for driving without a license in 2005, 2008 and 2011.