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Another rex dead. Damn.

Man crashes, flees scene; passenger dies

Authorities arrest suspected driver after he reportedly returns to the scene, but denies being involved

SILVER LAKES - Driving on Helendale Road at Vista Road early Sunday morning, a couple reported hearing a crash, then seeing a man standing over the body of an ejected passenger.

The man then reportedly covered his face with his T-shirt and ran off, officials said. Those witnesses then ran across the street to the fire station and reported the crime, offering a vague physical description of the man who fled as well as a description of what he was wearing.

Vanessa Butts, 28, of Silver Lakes was a passenger in a black 1990 Honda CRX and was killed in the accident around 12:30 a.m. when the driver ran the stop sign at Vista Road, veered to the right and collided with a light pole, officials said. The car then spun out of control, coming to rest when it collided again, this time with a tree. Butts was ejected from the car and firefighters pronounced her dead that morning.

As officers from the California Highway Patrol were investigating the accident around 2 a.m. they noticed a car circling the accident scene several times, said lead investigating Officer Mitchell Romriell of the Victorville CHP office.

"They finally stopped and one passenger made contact with me and was asking who died because he wanted to know if he knew the deceased. Further questioning revealed he knew a little too much about the accident, especially given the time of night. I went to his vehicle to question other passengers and I saw one guy who matched the description and was wearing the clothes described. He said he knew the deceased and had driven the vehicle earlier, but of course, he wasn't driving at the time of the accident," Romriell said. "He denied being the driver but physical evidence, including seatbelt abrasions on his neck, determined that he was."

Antonio Ross, 23, also of Silver Lakes was then arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, felony driving under the influence of alcohol, felony hit and run and resisting arrest, Romriell said, adding that Ross appeared to be intoxicated when he was being questioned.

It was unclear what type of relationship Ross and Butts had but Romriell believes the two are neighbors, living just two houses away from one another on Rivers Edge.

The accident will remain under investigation by the CHP.
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