STOCKTON, Calif. (CBS 13) – A man is behind bars at San Joaquin County Jail after a hit and run near Highway 99 in Stockton. Investigators say he fled after killing two passengers in the car and one bicyclist on the highway.
“I don’t know how to do this,” said Deborah Stevens, whose son John Eric Stevens was killed on Thursday night while riding his bicycle. “He was taken too soon. I didn’t have time to finish giving him things he needed.”
Stevens was riding his bicycle near Highway 99 on Frontage Road when he was struck by a car and killed. His girlfriend, Ami Livingston, says the two were watching the Raiders game when Stevens decided to make a trip to the store for cigarettes.
“He told me ‘I’m coming right back, babe,’” Livingston said. “And he never came back.”
After eight years together, Livingston and Stevens share two sons: 4-year-old Liam and 2-year-old Lucas.
“I’m just upset that someone could do this to him because he was a nice, loving father,” Livingston said.
California Highway Patrol arrested 23-year-old Matthew Barnec on Friday and believes he was the man behind the wheel. He now faces several charges including a felony hit and run. A CHP spokesperson told CBS13 they were able to make the arrest after investigators received several tips from people in the community.
“People do dumb things,” Stevens said. “Maybe he hit him and was scared to death and ran!”
Officers found a stolen Honda nearby with two dead passengers inside: 23-year-old Michelle Vargas and 23-year-old Raymond Schenone. Livingston said she didn’t know the two victims in the car.
“I didn’t but my man did,” she said. “He was really close with both of them.”
And while CHP continues to investigate, Livingston and Stevens’ parents try to hang on to the joy that Stevens brought to their lives.
“I want answers now,” Stevens said. “That’s what I want. I want answers. I wanna know who found my son on the road. I don’t care who it is. I just wanna know what happened.”
At this point, CHP says they don’t have reason to believe it was anything other than the impact of the car crash that killed the passengers. However, the coroner has not yet released the official cause of death.