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Boy Is Killed in Hit-Run Accident; Man Arrested

July 11, 2006|Maeve Reston | Times Staff Writer

Redlands police on Monday arrested a Santa Barbara man they say fled in his car after hitting and killing a boy and seriously injuring a young man as the two rode on a bicycle Sunday night in Mentone. The man ditched his car about a mile away, authorities said.

Mark Alan Critelli, 36, of Santa Barbara was arrested at a San Bernardino motel on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and felony hit and run. Redlands police said they received an anonymous tip about his location and arrested him at 10:30 a.m. without incident.

Critelli told arresting officers he had been in a collision but did not know he had hit anyone, said Carl Baker, spokesman for the Redlands Police Department.

The victims, Brian Cierley, 18, and Dylan Elder, 13, were close friends who lived on the same street in Mentone and often jumped their bikes on a plywood ramp Brian Cierley built in his frontyard.

Julie Cierley, Brian Cierley's mother, said her son was returning from a nearby friend's house Sunday evening. Dylan, on his new mountain bike, rode out to meet Cierley so he wouldn't have to walk home, she said.

When the collision occurred around 11 p.m., Brian was pedaling Dylan's bicycle along Mill Creek Road near Garnet Street with Dylan balanced on the handlebars.

The road, part of California 38, enters Mentone and Redlands from the San Bernardino National Forest. Neighbors said the area where the collision occurred was not well lighted.

A witness driving in the opposite direction on Mill Creek Road told police he saw the boys on the bike and then saw Critelli's westbound red Subaru coming up behind them.

Minutes later, the witness heard the crash and drove back to find Cierley lying on the side of the road. Julie Cierley said Dylan was thrown so far -- from 50 to 80 feet, according to police -- that neighbors tending to Cierley's injuries did not initially see Dylan.

Cierley is being treated at Loma Linda University Medical Center for severe head and spinal injuries. Dylan was pronounced dead at the scene.

"Everybody is just crushed," said Tiffany Oesterblad, Dylan's sister-in-law. "He was a really good kid -- energetic. Everybody liked him."

Police tracked down Critelli after sheriff's deputies found his damaged car about a mile away at the intersection of Turquoise and San Bernardino avenues, where it was being loaded onto a tow truck.

Baker said Critelli had called family members and asked them to call a tow truck to pick up the vehicle, telling them he believed he had hit a deer.

Police identified Critelli as the owner of the car after checking the license plates of the Subaru, which had severe damage to the front right side and windshield.

Julie Cierley said Dylan and her son grew up together and often biked together.

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