Glass Tech Solves Hit-and-Run Case
Michael Lester, owner of Dependable Auto Glass in Oregon, Wis.,
wasn't aware that a local hit-and-run had occurred when he replaced
the windshield of a minivan owned by Felix Romero-Ocotl on March
14. But when he heard a radio report a few weeks later that police
were looking for a minivan with a tinted backlite and no luggage
rack on top, this particular replacement came to mind.
He called the police, who were able to locate the vehicle and bring
it in for testing and confirm that it was involved in the accident.
While the driver told police he had hit a deer, Lester says the
vehicle owner didn't tell him anything about the damageand
he didn't ask.
"The guy was really nervous," Lester says. "He had the vehicle
covered underneath a tarp behind his house … It was cold, and he
was in his pajamas wrapped up in a blanket. He wouldn't leave me
alone. He sat there and stared at me the whole time."
Lester says when he heard the radio reports about the hit-and-run,
he remembered the incidentand the fact that the vehicle owner
lived near the accident scene.
He also noted some other suspicions about the vehicle itself.
"I smelled booze inside the vehicle-that stale smell," he
The victim, Lucas Peerenboom, 20, was struck on March 10 and later
died. Romero-Ocotl called Lester's shop the next day for a quote
and the work was done on March 14. Once Lester heard of the hit-and-run
and remembered the incident in early April, he called his shop and
had his secretary gather all the information about the questionable
vehicle and its owner.
"When I heard it on the radio, almost a month later, it struck
me, and everything matched up," he says. Lester adds that since
the reportand his name has appeared in several news stories
about the incidenthe has seen a lag in some parts of business
(but did note an increase in dealership work). He's still glad he
called, though, despite this.
"We respect the privacy of our customers and such," he says, "but
when someone dies, and it's a kid, you've got to step up."
While Romero-Ocotl has been charged, police have not been able
to locate him since they originally detained his vehicle on April
19, according to reports from the Capital Times.
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