FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Family and friends of a Community Regional Medical Center radiology technician killed in a car crash in Northeast Fresno on Thursday are mourning a 26-year-old universally remembered as a good man.
"Somebody you just end up feeling like they're one of your own kids, they just have that kind of feel for you," said Matt Harkenrider's high school baseball coach John McMillen.
And as they remembered Harkenrider, Action News investigated the woman police say hit him while driving a stolen SUV.
Roberta Lynn Soto, 45, had a history of mostly misdemeanor crimes -- until this week. Soto is in fair condition at Community Regional -- the same hospital where Harkenrider worked -- and when she gets out, she'll go straight to jail. But it was an auto theft that started the chain of events leading to Harkenrider's death.
Matt Harkenrider watched over the baseball field throughout his four years at Yosemite High School. The Badger catcher made lifelong friends, including Coach McMillen, who saw the teenager grow into a successful man.
"(He) wound up getting married, just bought a new house here not too long ago and everything was headed his way," McMillen said. "He had a job he wanted and he was very happy."
But now Yosemite High School is watching over Matt, sending thoughts and prayers to his family. News of the crash that killed him Thursday spread fast through the community, delivering crushing blows to many of his former teammates.
"You know, they're really having a difficult time," Coach McMillen said. "These young kids losing somebody like that in a tragic situation this way, nobody knows how to handle it or how to respond to it."
Police say Roberta Lynn Soto was driving a stolen SUV when she ran a red light at Fresno and Herndon, killing Harkenrider. Its owner spotted her green purse in the back seat in Action News video. She reported the Kia Sorrento missing from Selma Tuesday, when a woman walked into her hair salon, stole her purse and drove away.
A nearby business recorded surveillance video of the crime. You can see a woman resembling Soto walking through the parking lot, and then the SUV drives away.
Two days later, Harkenrider was dead, and Soto was found with the stolen vehicle, still gripping a baggie of meth. Police say Soto is facing at least manslaughter charges, but a relative says they're hoping for a stiffer penalty.
Harkenrider leaves behind a wife who is pregnant, as well as a 7-year-old daughter.
Educational Employees Credit Union
Matthew Harkenrider memorial account #11956007
Harkenrider's 7-year-old daughter
Golden One Credit Union