File photo

Renton man charged with vehicular homicide after freeway hit-and-run

The defendant was previously involved in a fatal hit-and-run in 2017.

A 21-year-old Renton man is facing charges of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault after his alleged involvement in a Feb. 26 hit-and-run that left two people dead and one person seriously injured.

The weather was snowy and the roads were slick in the Seattle area on Feb. 26. According to charging documents, a collision occurred around 3 a.m. on Southbound Interstate 5 near the West Seattle Freeway. Manuel Avitia was driving a Mercedes when he was reportedly struck by a Chevrolet Cavalier driven by Skyler Thorton and occupied by his passenger Terrell Aaron.

Following the uncontrolled stop both vehicles took after the collision, Avitia got out of the car to pick up a piece of his vehicle and examine the damage.

Meanwhile, the defendant, Antonio Michael Lopez, was approaching the scene of the crash in a Jeep Wrangler with his girlfriend in the passenger seat, who, according to documents, was getting a ride from a party after she got too intoxicated. The Jeep was estimated to have been traveling at around 70 mph when it collided with the rear of the stopped Chevrolet Cavalier.

According to charging documents, the collision threw Avitia on the road. He was hospitalized after reportedly suffering a bleeding head injury, fractured ribs, and a lacerated liver. Thorton and Aaron suffered catastrophic injuries and were pronounced dead at the scene.

Lopez and his passenger slipped away from the scene during the commotion, according to charging documents. Police have issued a warrant for his arrest as they continue to search for him

According to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Lopez has a criminal and traffic history that includes “inattentive driving” and multiple no insurance/no driver’s license infractions, speeding 23 mph over the limit with no license. Less than six years ago in 2017, he reportedly drove on the shoulder of a road and killed a teenager fleeing the scene.

Authorities allege Lopez “shows no inclination to follow court orders” and has now killed a total of three people with his car and fled.


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