Man killed in hit-and-run on Foster Farms property in Fresno County

Kate Nemarich Image
Friday, August 25, 2023
Foster Farms employee killed in hit-and-run crash in Reedley: CHP
A hit-and-run crash on Foster Farms' property in Reedley left one man dead on Wednesday morning.

REEDLEY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A hit-and-run crash on Foster Farms' property in Reedley left a man dead on Wednesday morning.

The California Highway Patrol says 40-year-old Melecio Hernandez-Ayala, who worked at Foster Farms through a temporary agency, got into a company van without permission and started driving around the property on Englehart Avenue in Reedley.

During that drive, officials say he hit 25-year-old Jose Aguilera, who was another employee, as he was walking.

Aguilera later died at the hospital.

Officials say Hernandez-Ayala drove away after hitting Aguilera.

"I have no words for him right now. Just that I hope that he knows he took someone innocent. He didn't deserve this. My brother didn't deserve this," said Mair Najera, Aguilara's sister.

Maria Najera stood outside Aguilera's home on Thursday, just one day after his death.

Najera says she hasn't been able to pass through the front gate.

She says her brother kept to himself, going to work and back home, and he would do anything for his two young kids and his siblings.

His death comes just three years after his mother's.

"That was her spoiled baby. She had a favorite, that was him. So, I'm sure they are together," said Najera.

Other employees went to Aguilera's side and called for help after the crash.

It wasn't long before Ayala-Hernandez spotted a CHP officer who had pulled over another driver and turned himself in.

"So that traffic stop was about a mile and a half to two miles away from that scene. He was definitely fleeing the scene, trying to get away from the incident he had caused," said Officer Mike Salas.

Ayala-Hernandez was booked in the Fresno County Jail on charges of felony hit and run and stolen vehicle.

If he had stayed at the scene, he could have been looking at different charges.

"The worst thing you can do to add to the problems is to flee the scene. In this situation, had that driver remained there on the scene, if he had tried to render aid obviously, he would not be facing these felony hit-and-run charges," explained Salas.

Law enforcement doesn't believe drugs or alcohol are a factor.

However, Ayala-Hernandez doesn't have a license to drive and has a prior misdemeanor charge.

He is being held in the Fresno County Jail on a $20,000 bond.

Aguilera's family has set up a GoFundMe to help with funeral costs.

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