Suspect wanted for hit-and-run in SLC arrested after parking in front of victim’s house

Posted at 6:32 PM, Feb 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-28 23:19:33-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- More than three weeks after a man on a long board was critically injured in a hit-and-run, a suspect is behind bars after parking in front of the victim's home.

Austin Bryson, 25, suffered critical injuries when he was hit by a car near Liberty Park February 4. The driver fled the scene, and police released surveillance footage that showed the suspect vehicle. 

Tuesday, police got a break in the case. Austin Bryson said things began when a car parked in front of his home Tuesday and his brother noticed the bumper was held together by zip ties.

“Right out front, I mean, I’m talking directly, where I park my car," Bryson said.

The family called police, who arrived to investigate and ultimately arrested the driver on charges that include failure to remain at the scene of an accident, which is a third-degree felony. It turns out the suspect vehicle was the same car that struck Bryson earlier this month.

“This just kind of fell in our laps," said Det. Greg Wilking of the Salt Lake City Police Department, adding "It just happens that this car ends up in front of his house.”

Police arrested Roberto Gutierrez, 21, Tuesday and say he was driving the white Ford Fiesta that struck Bryson on 500 East and Harvard Avenue. Police say the crash caused "permanent and life altering injuries" to Bryson.

“I’ve got a rod in my leg, six screws," Bryson said. "I've got more than 800 stitches in my head."

Police say Gutierrez fled the scene of the crash without checking on the victim or calling for help. Fragments of his car were recovered at the scene.

Tuesday, police stated the suspect's vehicle was located in front of the victim's home.

"I could kind of see that the hood was really messed up," Bryson said, and upon further investigation: "I knew that was the car."

Police say Gutierrez began a job at a restaurant next door to the victim's home, which is why he happened to be parked there.

"That's got to be Karma of some sort," Wilking said of Tuesday's arrest.

Authorities interviewed the Gutierrez, and he denied being the driver in the hit-and-run but confirmed he had driven the suspect vehicle to work that day. He then claimed the car was stolen or tampered with during the hours he worked on February 4, and that the vehicle was returned to his parking space after the fact.

Police learned that Gutierrez does not have a driver's license and was driving the Fiesta on the previous owner's license plates. They said he obtained his job by fraudulently using a relative's Social Security card and permanent resident card.

Gutierrez faces charges that include failure to remain at the scene of an accident involving serious injury, driving without a license, failure to register a vehicle, and identity fraud.

Bryson said they "had lost hope" in the case, but now he's grateful the suspect has been apprehended.

"It made me so mad to think he was at work having a normal life," he said.

Wilking said it's unusual for a case to resolve itself this way.

"These hit and runs are really hard to solve," he said.