Home » Police Sent Blurry Photos Of A Car Involved In A Hit-And-Run And Somehow Our Readers ID’d It. Now A Suspect Has Been Arrested

Police Sent Blurry Photos Of A Car Involved In A Hit-And-Run And Somehow Our Readers ID’d It. Now A Suspect Has Been Arrested

Hit And Run Cars Ts
ADVERTISEMENT

It seemed impossible. The few images Detective Zack Currier had of a vehicle involved in a deadly hit-and-run incident were awful. Even Currier, when asked for those images, warned me that they were blurry and dark, and that we likely wouldn’t be able to do much with them. “Just send us everything you have.

Our readers are total nerds,” I responded. Well, it’s been a few weeks now, and somehow you readers pulled it off. You identified the car, and now police have a suspect.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Two weeks ago, the Capitola Police Department out of Capitola, California posted this to its Facebook page:

This prompted a reader, John Paul Jose, to email me asking if I thought Autopians might be able to figure out what the car is.

I called up the Capitola Police Department to see if indeed, the police could use help identifying the make and model of the vehicle (often they’re just asking for folks who know this particular car). I ended up chatting with detective Zack Currier; here’s what he told me (excerpt from the previous article)

ADVERTISEMENT

“It would be very helpful,” he said, going on to discuss “flock cameras,” which are usually staged in high-traffic areas.  “I can search through Santa Cruz and Watsonville flock cameras,” he told me, “But I’m usually looking for a vehicle that I know what it is,” he said. He knows the suspect’s vehicle exited the highway from Santa Cruz. “The issue is I don’t know what kind of car it is, so when I put it into the search bar, I’m looking at hundreds of SUVs.”

“[Helping us determine] the make and model is huge,” he said. “You let the auto body shops know, you let the public know…Knowing the make and model is huge for us.”

The photos I received were not amazing. We had these two blurry shots of the car going under an overpass:

Screen Shot 2023 12 05 At 9.55.28 Am

Facebooker Michael Gutierrez posted in the comments of the Capitola Police Department’s Facebook post this image of the two photos stitched together:

Screen Shot 2023 12 05 At 9.55.37 Am

You can see two horizontal-ish looking elements in the taillights, and the headlights look pretty slim. There’s also a shark-fin antenna on the roof, and five-spoke wheels. Otherwise, there’s not a whole lot to go on other than the general SUV-ish shape.

ADVERTISEMENT

Detective currier also sent me this image of what he suspected was the vehicle’s headlight passing behind a dumpster:

Screen Shot 2023 12 05 At 9.57.52 Am

And Currier sent me this video, which showed a really blurry car passing from right to left at about the 18 second mark. I personally didn’t get much from this:

The response from readers was lightning-quick, with the post garnering over 200 comments in short order. After combing through the comments, we published this article on the top guesses:

Screen Shot 2023 12 05 At 10.01.34 Am

ADVERTISEMENT

Those top guesses were:

  • Genesis GV80

  • 2013 to 2019 Ford Escape

  • 2022+ Chevrolet Traverse

  • 2011 to 2013 Toyota Highlander

  • 2020+ Land Rover Discovery Sport

  • 2023+ Honda Pilot

The amount of time and effort that you incredible readers put into trying to identify the car involved in the hit-and-run is truly inspiring. Check this out:

Screen Shot 2023 12 05 At 10.07.05 Am Screen Shot 2023 12 05 At 10.08.38 Am Screen Shot 2023 12 05 At 10.07.51 Am Screen Shot 2023 12 05 At 10.07.30 Am

As time went on, one of those six hypotheses in our follow-up post began gaining more and more support from sleuthing readers: the 2023+ Honda Pilot. The support grew in no small part due to reader John Paul Jose’s graphic (Jose was the one who’d sent me the original tip!). Look at this incredible work on JPJ’s part:

Screen Shot 2023 12 05 At 10.04.06 Am

ADVERTISEMENT

I sent detective currier a few emails letting him know what we’d discovered: “Hi Detective Currier, Here are our best guesses on the vehicle’s make and model: https://www.theautopian.com/these-are-your-top-guesses-for-the-car-involved-in-that-fatal-hit-and-run-in-california-lets-try-to-pare-them-down/ -DT” went me first email, quickly followed up with: “The top guess is a 2023 or 2024 Honda Pilot. I’d recommend focusing on those vehicles first, unless you have information suggesting otherwise.”

Here was Currier’s reply:

Hey David, first off, I want to thank you and your community for all the help. We have received such in depth and detailed breakdowns of what the suspect vehicle possibly could be.

John Paul Jose and others have really taken the time out to examine and compare some features to the 23/24 Honda Pilot. We now how some potential leads we are investigating involving that type of vehicle.
So far, the Honda Pilot appears to be the best match to me and the other investigators on this case.
Thank you all again for the help and hope you all enjoy the holidays!
I asked for a follow-up yesterday, almost two weeks later. Currier sent me this:
Hey David,
An update is we had made an arrest for this case last friday and the vehicle associated was proven to be a 2023 black Honda Pilot. Like I said before, I would like to thank you and your community for all the input and dedication.
Obviously, this person is still a suspect, though the Santa Cruz Sentinel says the arrest happened after the vehicle was analyzed for “physical and biological evidence” of a hit and run.
So, if this does end up being the culprit, you readers should be proud of all the work you did to help not just bring someone to justice, but to potentially help bring some level of peace to the parties affected on that tragic day, November the 18th, in which woman lost her life.

 

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
59 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
niceladybadjeep
niceladybadjeep
4 months ago

Next automotive case. Where have my 10mm sockets gone?

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
4 months ago

Beyond our collective grasp, I’m afraid. It’s probably living its best life with a bunch of newly single socks.

Cayde-6
Cayde-6
4 months ago

I suspect that 10mm sockets, like ratchet screwdrivers, are harvested instead of manufactured, and thus have their own unique life cycle

“A forest was discovered recently in which most of the trees grew ratchet screwdrivers as fruit. The life cycle of ratchet screwdriver fruit is quite interesting. Once picked it needs a dark dusty drawer in which it can lie undisturbed for years. Then one night it suddenly hatches, discards its outer skin which crumbles into dust, and emerges as a totally unidentifiable little metal object with flanges at both ends and a sort of ridge and a sort of hole for a screw. This, when found, will get thrown away. No one knows what it is supposed to gain from this. Nature, in her infinite wisdom, is presumably working on it.”

– Douglas Adams, “Life, the Universe, and Everything”

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
4 months ago

“Looks like this Pilot….

https://media.tenor.com/yphqEE-2DVsAAAAC/csi-miami.gif

…is about to be grounded.”

YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Geoffrey Reuther
Geoffrey Reuther
4 months ago
Reply to  Rollin Hand

COTD nomination…

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
4 months ago
Reply to  Rollin Hand

Well played.

Rafael
Rafael
4 months ago

Who knew the Autopian Collective was capable of the “enhance” feature of the fictional CSI universe…
Suck it, ChatGPT!

Ricardo
Ricardo
4 months ago

*insert Law & Order music – boom boom!

Lightning
Lightning
4 months ago

I’ve learned not to trust the police when they say things like, “the vehicle associated was proven to be a 2023 Black Honda Pilot”. Proven? Sure, maybe proven that the person they arrested maybe owns that car. But is it the right car? I’d for sure want to see the quality of the evidence that they produce before calling it solved – the kind of damage or residue on the car if any, how they determined who was driving, etc. If they just looked up the Honda Pilots owned in the neighborhood and arrested an owner of one, that would obviously not be enough proof.

I’m still not sure the curvature of the hood and shape of the headlight matches the Pilot, even considering possible rolling shutter (look at the undistorted. round shape of the wheels). The Ford Escape was discounted due to the taillight light signature, but a Ford Escape owner said in the last post that his Escape’s taillights did actually have light signature, so I’m still leaning Escape unless the police have a lot better evidence.

Drew
Drew
4 months ago
Reply to  Lightning

I followed a Pilot of the appropriate age one night while we were sleuthing, and I have to say that seeing it in person, moving with lights on and everything, was what really sold me on it. It’s a really good fit for what we saw.

That said, I do hope that the defense attorney makes the prosecutor prove the case. I’m with you on a general distrust of our justice system.

I also wonder if there was another tip. We had a fatal hit and run locally around the same time, and a tow truck driver happened to see a suspiciously damaged/covered vehicle the next day. It appeared someone had thrown towels onto it to cover the damage/blood while they tried to lay low. This might be something like that.

Lightning
Lightning
4 months ago
Reply to  Drew

I imagine cell phone tower pings might be evidence – or defense (which might then be ignored). We don’t know if that has been looked at.

Cayde-6
Cayde-6
4 months ago
Reply to  Lightning

How about “biological material consistent with a hit-and-run”?

Lightning
Lightning
4 months ago
Reply to  Cayde-6

The article says they analyzed it and arrested someone. I’d want to see that evidence because police lie all the time out of court (and sometimes in court). It could be 100% convincing if they have had time to do DNA analysis. . . for the car at least. That still wouldn’t say who was driving, if it were a car from a family of, let’s say five drivers unless they fess up.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
4 months ago

Finally, my newfound (unwanted) obsession with boring modern SUVs is assuaged.

Last edited 4 months ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Danger Ranger
Danger Ranger
4 months ago

I was WAY off, guess I need to really start studying again, when I was a kid (80’s) I could tell you the car by the headlights or the taillights. Not so much anymore.

Iwannadrive637
Iwannadrive637
4 months ago

Good work, everyone. I’m really bad at these things so I’m impressed by other’s eyes.

Spectre6000
Spectre6000
4 months ago

Does the Autopian get the $10K reward to go toward its operating budget?

Cody
Cody
4 months ago
Reply to  Spectre6000

Two individual donors contributed $5K each, so the total is a $20K reward for information leading to the arrest.

PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
4 months ago

WOW…this is seriously impressive! I love this place.

VermonsterDad
VermonsterDad
4 months ago

So does that mean the greater autopian community is eligible for the $10,000 reward? Maybe we can donate to some charities close to our hearts. . .like cats rescues.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
4 months ago
Reply to  VermonsterDad

Seeing as this ID involved tail lights, I am thinking I know a more deserving beneficiary.

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
4 months ago

Yay! This is awesome…Thank you for the update!

Parsko
Parsko
4 months ago

Great news to read! I’m also happy to have an update on this. Does JPJ get an membership on the house??

M K
M K
4 months ago

Send the $10,000 to Torch’s health care fund!!

59
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x