PORT ANGELES — A Forks man charged with felony hit-and-run told authorities a motorcycle he collided with on a remote West End road, seriously injuring the rider, suddenly appeared out of scrub vegetation before impact.
Francisco Comonfort Saavedra, 46, charged Friday in Clallam County Superior Court, will be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
Comonfort, who has a valid Washington state drivers license, spoke through an interpreter at his first appearance Friday, after which he was released on personal recognizance.
The wreck occurred at about 5:30 p.m. Aug. 8 on the Sekiu Mainline south of state Highway 112, according to a probable cause statement written by sheriff’s Deputy Sean Hoban.
“He was traveling slowly when a man (Caylen Phegley) on a motorcycle came out of the brush and their vehicles collided,” according to a summary of Comonfort’s interview with Hoban at the Forks office of the sheriff’s department.
“Francisco did not know what to do and was afraid.
“He got back into his vehicle and drove away,” according to the statement.
Comonfort’s van then got stuck, high-centering on a logging road, before Comonfort fled, leaving his friend and 15-year-old son in the vehicle, according to the statement.
“Francisco did not know what happened to Caylen,” Hoban said Comonfort told him.
“He was sorry for leaving Caylen.”
Phegley, 22, of Forks, was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he was treated for a broken back and jaw before he was discharged Aug. 11.
Shortly after the collision, Nicholas Tucker, whose age and city of residence were unavailable Tuesday, found Phegley not knowing he had been struck by the van and believing he had wrecked his motorcycle, Hoban said.
Tucker carried Phegley about a quarter-mile to the gate where Tucker’s vehicle was parked before he drove Phegley to Forks Community Hospital, arriving about 75 minutes after the collision, at 6:45 p.m.
The owner of a wholesale florist company in Forks where Comonfort works reported the collision to authorities less than a half-hour later, at 7:08 p.m.
He called authorities after he learned someone needed to pick up Comonfort’s son and that his father had run into the woods, according to the statement.
Sgt. Ed Anderson went to the site of the collision, reporting it appeared Comonfort’s van was heading down the mountain while Phegley was going up before they collided at a corner. Anderson said Comonfort had been picking salal.
Anderson said deputies found a bent-up motorcycle and a license plate from the van that had struck the motorcycle.
Comonfort’s son was sleeping in the back seat of the van when he felt the impact and woke up, the teenager told Deputy James Gribbon.
“The van was on top of the motorist (Caylen Phegley) and [the teen] tried to help him,” according to Gribbon’s summary of the interview.
“[The teen] asked Caylen if he was OK and could move,” and Phegley said no, Gribbon said the teen told him.
“[The teen] was helping Caylen. Francisco told [the teen] no and to get back in the van.”
Comonfort, his friend and his son were driving on a road by Quillayute Airport when they got stuck and exited the van, the boy and his father’s friend walking in opposite directions from his father, the teen said.
“Francisco told [the teen] to call his uncle … and ask him to pick Francisco up and take him to Oregon,” the boy told Gribbon.
The boy and Comonfort’s friend went to Comonfort’s employer’s shop.
Without success, search parties attempted to find Comonfort until the florist company’s owner contacted Anderson on Aug. 12, four days after the collision, to say Comonfort wanted to turn himself in.
Sgt. Sandra Waterhouse, who is bilingual, spoke with Comonfort — who speaks Mixteco, an indigenous language of southern Mexico — at the Forks detachment of the sheriff’s office.
Waterhouse said the proper format for Comonfort’s name is Saavedra Francisco Comonfort.
According to his drivers license and his interview in Forks, his name is Francisco Comonfort Saavedra, Hoban said in the probable cause statement.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].