Police investigating the hit-and-run accident that killed a 16-year-old Turner boy said Tuesday that they were planning to interview two “people of interest” who might have been involved, based on tips they had received.
Police would not say whether they believe the two people were in the vehicle that hit Xavier Fuentes on Saturday night, nor would they otherwise characterize how the two might be involved.
An autopsy Tuesday showed that Fuentes, who was killed as he walked on Route 117 in Paris, died of multiple blunt force injuries.
Fuentes was walking east, facing westbound traffic, when he was hit by a vehicle that police say had a plow attachment or was large enough to carry a plow, possibly a large pickup truck or sport utility vehicle. Police said they concluded that the vehicle must have been large because of the nature of the boy’s injuries, though they can’t say for sure whether it had a plow on it.
“Initially, we thought that,” said Detective Sgt. Jeffrey Lange. “But we have been rethinking our theories based on some of the evidence recovered and the crash reconstruction. We’re not ruling it out.”
A passing driver found Fuentes lying in the westbound travel lane at 8:30 p.m. The boy was taken to Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway, where he died.
Police conducted a roadblock Sunday night to ask people who travel on Route 117 whether they had seen anything noteworthy the previous night. That yielded little information, Lange said. Now, police are counting on people to come to authorities on their own if they may have information.
Lange said they learned about the two people of interest “from tips we received from either Internet or email or phone calls.”
He said police had identified the two and planned to interview them.
“All my focus is on tracking down all the leads, interviewing possible suspects and getting the word on the street,” he said.
He said police also want to hear from any auto body shops where somebody is getting front-end repairs that might be consistent with having hit someone.
Tuesday’s autopsy indicated that Fuentes sustained multiple injuries that contributed to his death, said Mark Belserene, a spokesman for the state Medical Examiner’s Office. The determination of his manner of death, including whether it was accidental, is still pending, he said.
Fuentes’ grandmother dropped him and his cousin off at a movie Saturday in Oxford, but Fuentes had an argument with his grandmother beforehand and left the theater in the middle of the movie.
Kenny Wills, Fuentes’ great-uncle, described the argument as a small squabble. “She told me he didn’t get his way. Typical teenager thing,” Wills said.
He said family members believe he left the theater to “let off some steam.”
When Fuentes’ cousin and sister, who works at the theater, couldn’t find him, they called police. The missing-person report was filed with the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office at 7:20 p.m.
“I do know he was walking safely and absolutely doing nothing wrong,” Wills said, citing a friend who told Wills that he was driving on Route 117 Saturday night and saw Fuentes walking. “That’s comforting to us.”
Wills said the family doesn’t know whether Fuentes slipped and fell during his walk. Route 117 is narrow in the area where he was hit because of snowbanks against a guardrail.
Fuentes’ family members have followed the investigation closely, saying they can’t have closure while the driver who hit him remains at large.
Wills said the family isn’t bitter, but wants answers.
“We are not a hateful family. We’re not looking to destroy this person’s life,” he said of the driver.
The family has set up a Facebook page, “Justice for Xavier Fuentes,” and is offering a $1,500 reward for information leading to the identification of the driver.
Paris police are gathering security video from nearby businesses in an effort to identify anyone who might have information about the case. Anyone with information is asked to call the Paris Police Department at 743-7448 or email email@example.com.
David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: