After a Crime Stoppers tip, police found the driver in Sergio Rodriguez’s hit-and-run death. The volunteer firefighter was accidentally killed while walking along Highway 287 on July 22 by 19-year-old Athmar Talal Mafrachi. Rodriguez had left a bar and was walking home. Rodriguez’s role as a hard-working volunteer firefighter meant he may have been sleep deprived at the time of the accident. Police initially suspected that the hit-and-run driver had been drinking, but it turns out that like Rodriguez, Mafrachi was over-worked and under-rested. Mafrachi was working two jobs including a night job at a grocery store. His shift finished at 3am and Mafrachi started towards home by driving onto the Highway 287 ramp at Riverside. The ramp is where he ran into Rodriguez.
Mafrachi, who has been cooperating with police since his arrest, admits that he tried to avoid Rodriguez, but knew he had struck someone when he chose to leave the scene of the accident. The reason- he was simply too afraid to stop. He said, “I was really scared at that time. I could not do nothing.” He also told the media that he was trying to find the courage to come forward. He told WFAA, “After three days I was thinking every day, ‘OK, I’m going to call the police. I’m going to call the police. I’m going to call the police.'” He wants the Rodriguez family to know how sorry he is for Rodriguez’s tragic death.
The Mafrachi family knows what it is like to experience a loved one’s tragic death. The family came to the United States four years ago as Iraqi refugees. Mafrachi’s 18-year-old brother was tortured and killed for aiding the United States. After his death, the family was brought out of Iraq. Since arriving in the U.S., Athmar Mafrachi has made a place for himself at Poly Tech High School and with his girlfriend who is expecting a child. Mafrachi now faces several serious charges including failure to stop and render aid. The promise of a happy American life is now in jeopardy because of the accident.
With Mafrachi in custody, the police’s manhunt is over. The police investigation may be coming to a close, but efforts continue by the Everman fire department. They are currently raising money for Rodriguez’s two children with an account through Wells Fargo bank. You can call your local branch to find out more about how to donate.