The search for a man wanted in connection with a fatal traffic collision in north Wichita continues.
Police now say Javier Rizo, 22, was the driver of the gray van that ran a stop sign at 24th and Arkansas early Sunday morning and hit a southbound sedan, killing 34-year-old Maria Martinez.
Rizo and one other person in the van ran from the scene before officers arrived. Two other passengers were still inside and were hospitalized.
“Somebody out there knows where he is,” Lt. Joe Schroeder said of Rizo.
Rizo is wanted on two felony warrants, Schroeder said. Anyone hiding or helping Rizo could face criminal charges, he said. There are no warrants connected to the collision early Sunday morning.
“We want to talk to him” to get a clearer picture of what happened, Schroeder said.
Police began a chase of the van in downtown Wichita following a disturbance in Old Town. The pursuit began just north of Douglas on Market and continued after the van turned east on 13th and north on Broadway.
Supervisors called off the chase after speeds reached 70 miles an hour on Broadway, police have said. But Schroeder said it’s entirely possible Rizo didn’t realize the chase had ended.
“The van kept running even after officers terminated the pursuit,” Schroeder said.
That’s likely because Rizo didn’t realize he wasn’t being chased.
“You don’t know — other than there’s not any officers behind them,” he said.
The police helicopter was tracking the van as it fled from police, using its search light, but the search light was turned off when the pursuit was called off, Schroeder said. Officers lost sight of the van and thought it had turned on 25th Street.
The helicopter was using infrared light to try to track the van, Schroeder said, but foliage shrouding 24th blocked its view.
The air section observed a vehicle “spin out,” Capt. Brent Allred said earlier this week, but it turned out to be the sedan Martinez was driving being knocked into a parking lot on the southwest corner of the intersection by the force of impact. Officers converged on the intersection after learning of the collision.
Once Rizo is found and questioned, Schroeder said, information in the case will be presented to the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office.
Rizo pleaded guilty to felony murder as a juvenile in the killing of Gonzalo Gomez on May 15, 2007, in what prosecutors described as a robbery that turned deadly. As part of the plea, Rizo was sentenced to a detention facility until he was 22 1/2 years old, then under supervised release until he was 23.
But Rizo was arrested early on the morning of June 13 after a police pursuit that lasted seven minutes in southwest Wichita and at times reached speeds of 90 miles an hour. Rizo was booked into jail on suspicion of 26 charges, and a warrant was issued for running from his supervised release.
He absconded from supervised release again, however, and another warrant for his arrest was issued on Sept. 27.