CHP Arrests Man After 2 Children Injured in Castro Valley Hit-and-Run

The California Highway Patrol Highway Patrol on Wednesday announced the arrest of a man who they say is connected to driving a stolen car that struck two young children walking with their grandmother in a Castro Valley neighborhood.

The CHP identified the man as 29-year-old Daniel Morris.

It was a combination of tips from the public and evidence left behind at the scene of the accident that led investigators to Morris, authorities said. Police arrested him around 1 a.m. Wednesday at a motel in Hayward.

"There was a lot of information – a lot of evidence within the vehicle plus eye witness statements," said CHP officer Daniel Hill.

According to the Alameda County jail, Morris said he is unemployed. He is being held on $75, 000 bail at Santa Rita Jail. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday.

Early Wednesday morning, the Alameda County Regional Auto Theft Task Force posted a photo on Facebook of what appears to be police cars, with the statement "strike one off the most wanted list."

Officers had suspected it was him, but Morris has been at large since March 7. That's when two brothers, a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old, were walking on Meadowview Drive toward Marshall Street at about 8 a.m. when the younger boy stopped on the sidewalk. While he bent down to look at worms, a black sedan came up behind him, veered off the road and hit the child, CHP Officer Dan Jacowitz said. 

Morris kept going on the sidewalk after striking the boys, eventually crashing into a pole nearby. He got out of the car and ran into the neighborhood while the 6-year-old was pinned against the pole by the vehicle, Jacowitz said. The 6-year-old was taken to the Children's Hospital Oakland with severe injuries.

The child's left leg has since been amputated from the knee down, authorities said. 

"This strikes at the core of everybody, no matter how long you have been a law enforcement officer, when a child is involved," said Castro Valley police Lt. Jim Allen.

Alan Templeton, the injured children's grandfather, deemed the crash a "horrible tragedy" and expressed relief at Morris' arrest.

"The fact that he ran away -- for me that’s the lowest," he said. "So at least some justice can be done."

Templeton, who believes it is a miracle that his grandsons are alive, said, "My focus isn't on [Daniel Morris]." It's on his family, he said.   

The crashed sedan, a black 2010 Ford Fusion, was stolen from a Livermore Ford dealership early Monday morning, along with four other vehicles, the dealership confirmed to NBC Bay Area.

Alameda County Sheriff's deputies contacted the owner of the car, who said it had been dropped off at the dealership on Sunday night, CHP officials said.

Surveillance video captured what police describe as a sophisticated car theft crew, including Morris, at work. 

"We are looking for the other suspects that may have been involved in that incident," Hill said.

While police hunt for additional suspects, Morris is being charged with felony hit and run, vehicle theft, and possession of stolen property. He already has a lengthy rap sheet, with charges, including drug possession, excessive speeding, driving without insurance and parole violations, dating back 10 years.

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