FORT WORTH — The hit-and-run death of a volunteer firefighter gets even sadder as details emerge about the young driver police tracked down.
He is an Iraq war refugee.
A Crime Stoppers tip led to the arrest Tuesday of a teenager who admits he ran over 26-year-old Sergio Rodriguez.
Rodriguez had recently graduated from a fire academy, got his emergency medical technician certification and was creating a new future for himself.
Everman's director of emergency services said Rodriguez was working a lot and sleeping very little.
In that respect he's not that different from the young man who killed him.
"I knew I hit him; I did," Athmar Mafrachi told us.
Mafrachi said he was too scared to stop and call 911 or to check on Rodriguez. "I could not do nothing like that. I was really scared at that time. I could not do nothing," he said.
Mafrachi said he was not out drinking the night of July 22; he was going home from his second job at a small south side grocery store.
He said got off at 3 a.m., got onto the ramp at Riverside and Highway 287, and was startled to see a pedestrian in his headlights crossing the ramp.
"When I saw him I tried to go away from him," Mafrachi said. "Turn right and go away."
Friends said Sergio Rodriguez had walked away from a bar to avoid getting involved in a fight the night of July 22.
Four days later, police got a Crime Stoppers tip and a warrant for Mafrachi. He led them to his car behind a Fort Worth house, where he had taken it to be repaired.
"After three days I was thinking every day, 'OK, I'm going to call the police. I'm going to call the police. I'm going to call the police.'"
He never found the courage to do that, but documents show he is now cooperating.
Facebook photos show a young man who loves playing soccer for Poly Tech High School. His girlfriend is expecting a baby.
He said the U.S. helped his family leave Iraq four years ago after his 18-year-old brother was tortured and killed for helping the Americans.
But for failing to stop and help Sergio Rodriguez, Mafrachi's way of life in America may be over. He now faces charges including failure to stop and render aid.
Mafrachi said he wants the Rodriguez family to know he is sorry.
The Everman fire department is trying raise money for the victim's two young children. An account has been set up at Wells Fargo bank.
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