This week marks three years since a Villager riding a motorcycle was struck and killed by a hit-and-run suspect.
Lori Dudley, 54, on Aug. 20, 2016 had been riding a motorcycle at U.S. Hwy. 27 and Tally Road in Leesburg when she was struck by a 1997 Saturn station wagon. She later died at Leesburg Regional Medical Center.
The man who had been at the wheel of the Saturn, Jose Omar Azua, was arrested as a result of the crash. However, he posted $35,000 bond and skipped a subsequent court appearance. He hasn’t been seen since.
Dudley had been thrown to the windshield of the vehicle and then rolled to the ground. A witness said the Saturn kept going.
When Azua was initially located down the road, he was not in the vehicle. He was talking on a cell phone. He claimed he had not been driving.
An investigator stated that Azua “had the distinct odor of alcoholic beverage emitting from his breath” and that he was “clearly intoxicated.” He would not consent to a blood draw and no witness could specifically place him at the wheel of the Saturn at the scene of the accident. He was released.
Azua voluntarily showed up Aug. 22, 2016 at the Leesburg Police Department. He spoke little English and required an interpreter. Eventually he admitted he had been driving the Saturn, had consumed several beers and indicated he kept going because he “was scared.”
Though he remains on the run, Azua, now 36 years old, continues to face charges of vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident involving death. Should he be apprehended, he would almost certainly be returned to Lake County.
Azua has had a number of driving-related offenses in Lake County:
• In December 2011, Azua had been sentenced to probation on charges of driving under the influence and resisting arrest.
• In May 2016, he was fined $173 and ordered to attend traffic school after he was cited on a charge of failure to yield to oncoming traffic.
• In May 2014, he was cited when he failed to yield as a pedestrian.
• In September 2011, he was fined after he was ticketed for speeding. He had been ticketed for speeding earlier that year, but was able to attend traffic school to avoid conviction.