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Arrest Follows Hit-Run; 2 Teens Dead

October 06, 2006|Maeve Reston | Times Staff Writer

After a daylong manhunt, authorities tracked down the 24-year-old man they believe struck and killed two teens in Morongo Valley before fleeing the scene early Thursday morning.

Just before the accident at 3:15 a.m., Tracey Nelson and Samantha Nadine Schattler, both 16, were congregating on the side of the road with friends near a trailer park where one of the teens lived, officials said.

Tracey and Samantha's friends told California Highway Patrol investigators that the pair had been in a quarrel that night but had just made up and were standing on the shoulder of Highway 62 when a gold minivan heading west drifted off the road and hit them. Witnesses said the driver did not stop, according to CHP Sgt. Laura Quattlebaum.

Tracey's body was at the scene, but the force of the collision threw Samantha's body onto the roof of the minivan and she was carried more than eight miles south, where the driver abandoned the vehicle.

CHP officers found the minivan three hours later after getting a report from another driver, who had just passed the van, which was parked on the shoulder with the girl's body still on top.

The CHP searched for the driver on foot and with a plane and helicopter, but authorities arrested the man suspected of being the driver at a Canoga Park laundromat Thursday afternoon.

Enrique Hernandez of Winnetka was being questioned in Los Angeles on Thursday evening and was scheduled to be booked at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga on suspicion of felony hit and run and manslaughter.

maeve.reston@latimes.com

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