SALIDA, Calif. (KTXL) — Stanislaus County resident Airaldo Centeno is lying in a hospital bed, critically injured, after the sheriff’s office says he was intentionally struck by a driver.
Investigators are still trying to find out the reason a woman and her boyfriend allegedly went after Centeno on Broadway Avenue in the middle of Salida.
Centeno, who is a father of four, was outside around the corner from his home last week when someone began chasing him. Then, a car slammed into him.
The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office said they later arrested 23-year-old Melanie Clark and her boyfriend, 26-year-old Thomas Bennett, both of Salida.
Deputies said Clark hit Centeno on purpose with her car, and Bennett helped her getaway.
“Medical personnel, they believe based off of what they were seeing that it wasn’t in fact an accident and was actually intentional,” Sgt. Erich Layton told FOX40.
People in the area said Clark went up the curb, hit Centeno and took out a sign.
“Well, I heard a bang; then, I heard a car squeal; then, I came around the corner, and I saw him laying there on the road with the sign on him,” resident Randy Burton said.
A surveillance camera picked up the sound of the crash and the moments Clark and Bennett decided to leave the scene.
Clark and Bennett are now in the Stanislaus County jail, the sheriff’s office said. Clark faces attempted murder charges, and Bennett faces accessory charges, according to the sheriff’s office.
But Centeno’s family told FOX40 they want the charges upped to attempted murder. They say Centeno is a good man, and they have no idea why the couple allegedly decided to go after him.
They said they want justice, and they’re praying he survives.
The family says he is breathing on his own, but he is so far unresponsive and in a medically-induced coma.
A GoFundMe page was set up for Centeno, who is a father of four.