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License plate found at scene links suspect to deadly crash

Jose Alberto Martinez Cervantes, 26, is charged with failure to stop and render aid in the death of Gilberto Plaza, 50.

SAN ANTONIO — A license plate found at the scene of a deadly accident on the south side helped investigators track down a man accused of hitting a motorcyclist, Gilberto Plaza, who died shortly after being struck.

Police arrested Jose Alberto Martinez Cervantes, 26, yesterday for the deadly incident that happened Saturday night around 10 p.m on U.S. Highway 281 between Del Lago Parkway and Mission Grande. Plaza, 50, died at the scene.

A witness told police he observed a brown, early 2000's model Chevrolet pickup truck swerving ahead of him in the southbound lanes of the highway. He said it appeared the truck "hit the biggest pothole" he had ever seen someone hit. Initially, the witness did not see a motorcycle, but after he passed the area where he thought there was a pothole, he told police he noticed a motorcycle on its side and found Plaza badly injured.

According to a San Antonio Police Department preliminary report, Plaza was either sitting on or beside his gray 2016 Harley Davidson motorcycle in the right shoulder when he was hit.

Investigators found a license plate on the ground that matched up with a 1997 gold Chevrolet pickup truck. Bexar County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to the suspected driver's home around 4:30 a.m. yesterday and found the truck parked in the back of the residence at 23103 Blackjack Pass. It had significant front end damage and was still leaking radiator fluid.

A SAPD officer translated in Spanish when Cervantes was confronted and his Miranda rights were read. According to the affidavit, he was willing to answer questions and admitted to striking the motorcycle. He said he was driving alone and had consumed alcohol prior to the crash. He told investigators he left the scene because he was scared.

Cervantes told police the motorcycle came from the left lane and he was unable to avoid hitting it. According to the affidavit, he also denied seeing anyone on the motorcycle.

Cervantes remains in jail, charged with failure to stop and render aid. His bond was set at $25,000.

RELATED: Motorcyclist killed in hit-and-run Saturday night has been identified