UPDATE: Guilty plea in crash that killed 2 motorcyclists

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UPDATED Friday, August 8, 2014 --- 7:50 a.m.

JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) -- An Illinois man has pleaded guilty to charges resulting from a southern Wisconsin crash that killed two motorcyclists.

Authorities say 24-year-old Sambath Pal, of Park City, Illinois, was driving an SUV that crossed the center line on Highway 14 near Janesville last April. Pal struck two motorcycles in a group of riders, killing 24-year-old Mitchell Vance and 18-year-old Devin Julius, both of Janesville. Prosecutors say Pal left the scene following the crash.

Pal pleaded guilty to two counts of hit-and-run involving death in Rock County Circuit Court Thursday. Sentencing is set for Oct. 1.

Authorities say Pal's father, also of Park City, reported his son to authorities when he learned details of the accident from family members in Janesville.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press


UPDATED Tuesday, April 29, 2014 --- 6:22 p.m.

It's something instilled in parents from the moment they have a child. Do anything to protect them.

But, one man was put in a horrible position when he suspected his son was responsible for killing two motorcyclists.

It's a sad story we've been following since Easter. Two motorcyclists killed outside of Janesville, and the driver responsible just drove off.

"He kept saying "I want to be a good citizen" he was a good citizen and ultimately I believe, he might not understand this and perhaps his son might not either, he was also a good father," said Sheriff Robert Spoden.

The call came in last Thursday morning.

"You can tell in his voice and his demeanor on the phone that he was struggling with this," Spoden said.

It was Sambath Pal's father calling from Park City, Illinois, where Pal was picked up. He went on to tell officers that he thought his son was involved, having the same car detectives were searching for, with similar damage.

"He had asked his son about it and he had denied knowing how he got into an accident."

Last week when Sheriff Spoden announced Pal's arrest he said the caller wanted to remain anonymous, but Spoden warned him they could only guarantee that until court documents were released.

"He understood that eventually this was going to come out and eventually his son would know that it was his father that turned him in but ultimately he wanted to be the one who spoke to him about it."

Originally from Southeast Asia, but now a U.S. citizen, Spoden says Pal's father made the right choice to give grieving families peace of mind, even if it meant losing his son.

Pal is still being held at the Lake County jail in Illinois awaiting his extradition hearing on Thursday. He's charged with the hit and run that killed Devin Julius and Mitchell Vance.

UPDATED Tuesday, April 29, 2014 --- 2:38 p.m.

JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) -- Court documents say the father of a man charged in a fatal hit-and-run crash in southern Wisconsin turned in his son after discovering damage to his vehicle.

Twenty-four-year-old Sambath Pal is accused of driving the SUV that crossed the center line on Highway 14 in Rock County on Easter and struck the victims, 18-year-old Devin Julius and 24-year-old Mitchell Vance. The Janesville men were riding in a group of motorcycles.

Rock County Sheriff Robert Spooden says Pal's father, Saroeun Tigh, of Park City, Ill., called sheriff's officials Thursday. Park City police went to Tigh's home and arrested his son. Spooden says Tigh told them he wanted to be a good citizen, so he had to do the right thing and call authorities.

The Janesville Gazette (http://bit.ly/1kbB8we ) says Pal is in jail in Lake County, Ill.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press


UPDATED Friday, April 25, 2014 --- 3:48 p.m.

JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) -- Police have arrested an Illinois man in the hit-and-run deaths of two Wisconsin motorcyclists.

Authorities say the 24-year-old man from Park City, Ill., was arrested Thursday after Rock County sheriff's authorities got a tip about the suspect vehicle.

The Beloit Daily News reports the tip described an Infiniti SUV with front-end damage.

Twenty-four-year-old Mitchell Vance and 18-year-old Devin Julius, both of Janesville, were killed in the crash on Highway 14 in the Town of Harmony on Sunday. The two were riding motorcycles when an SUV crossed the center line and hit them. Other motorcyclists were able to avoid the crash.

Sheriff Robert Spoden says the suspect is in jail in Illinois awaiting extradition.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press


UPDATED Friday, April 25, 2014 --- 12:20 p.m.

The Rock Co. Sheriff says a 24-year-old man is in custody in connection to East Sunday's double fatal hit-and-run crash.

24-year-old Sambath Pal is in custody at the Lake Co., IL jail on two counts of hit and run causing death.

Two motorcyclists were killed in Sundya's crash on Highway 14.

The Sheriff says an anonymous call came in Thursday morning about the black Infiniti suspected to be involved in the crash. It was located in Park City, IL. Detectives say they worked with Park City police to detain Pal.

Pal was reportedly visiting friends in Wisconsin Easter weekend.

The suspect vehicle has been taken to the Wisconsin State Crime Lab in Milwaukee. Vehicle parts collected at the crash scene will be compared to the suspect vehicle.


UPDATED Friday, April 25, 2014 --- 11:42 a.m.

NBC15's Kate Pabich reports that an arrest has been made in a double fatal hit-and-run crash in Rock Co.

Two motorcyclists were killed in the crash on Easter Sunday.

The news comes as the Rock Co. Sheriff prepares to hold a press conference on the case. We will bring you more details as they become available.


UPDATED Friday, April 25, 2014 --- 10:40 a.m.

Rock Co. Sheriff Spoden will hold a press conference Friday to update the media on the investigation into a double fatal hit-and-run crash.

The crash happened Easter Sunday on Highway 14. Deputies have been looking for a suspect vehicle.

The press conference is scheduled for noon. In a press release, officials say the conference will be of “a significant nature.”

NBC15 will bring you updates on the case as they become available.


UPDATED Tuesday, April 22, 2014 --- 3:33 p.m.

JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) -- Investigators are now looking for a different sport utility vehicle suspected in the crash that killed two Janesville motorcyclists last weekend.

The Rock County sheriff's office originally had said the vehicle suspected of hitting the motorcycles on Highway 14 Sunday night was a Nissan. Later, authorities connected a fog lamp assembly recovered at the scene to an Infiniti QX4.

The Janesville Gazette (http://bit.ly/1idj8A3) reports investigators now believe the vehicle is a larger Infiniti, the QX56.

Sheriff's Capt. Brian Christiansen says another piece of debris was found to have a number on it. The dealership traced that piece, finding that it was specific to the larger Infiniti, model years 2004-07.

Killed in the crash were 24-year-old Mitchell Vance and 18-year-old Devin Julius. Three other motorcyclists and another vehicle avoided the crash.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press


UPDATED Tuesday, April 22, 2014 --- 2:14 p.m.

Rock Co. deputies have released more information on the vehicle sought after Sunday's fatal hit-and-run crash.

18-year-old Devin Julius and 24-year-old Mitchell Vance were killed in the crash on Highway 14.

Detectives have found another vehicle part while investigating the scene. A local Nissan dealership has determined the part was used only on a 2004-2007 Infinity QX56.

A fog light that was previously thought to be from a 2001-2003 QX4 is also the light used on the QX56 models.

Anyone having information about this accident or about the suspect vehicle (again, a 2004-2007 Infinity QX56) can contact the Rock County Sheriff’s Office Detective Bureau at 608-757-7923, Janesville Area Crime Stoppers at 608-756-3636, the Greater Beloit Area Crime Stoppers at 608-362-7463 or text “CRIMES” (274637) key word JACS or BACS then your message.

You can also submit tips through the Janesville Area Crime Stoppers website www.stopjanesvillecrime.com or the Greater Beloit Area Crime Stoppers website www.gbacrimestoppers.com. Callers can remain anonymous.


UPDATED Monday, April 21, 2014 --- 6:03 p.m.

Two men are dead after a hit and run crash just outside of Janesville. The Rock County Sheriff's Department needs your help tracking down the driver responsible.

It happened last night on Highway 14. The Sheriff's Department says 18-year-old Devin Julius and 24-year-old Mitchell Vance were both riding motorcycles when an SUV struck and killed them.

"We need the public's help finding this vehicle," said Captain Todd Christiansen.

Happening around 8 last night, detectives said an SUV crossed the center line heading right toward 5 motorcycles.

"The vehicle continued over and struck, I believe the first two vehicles in the group of 5."

The other three were able to swerve out of the way, and didn't get hit.

Vance died on scene and Julius was taken to Mercy Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Detectives said the SUV responsible for the deaths just kept driving.

"We can only speculate. We're they intoxicated, were they just you know, afraid?"

Captain Todd Christiansen says just today they were able to match pieces of evidence left behind to a make and model. They say it's a car like this one, a 2001-2003 dark colored infinity QX4.

"Anyone that sees this type of vehicle that has driver side damage for sure. It's going to be missing that front fog light to get as much information as they can and report it to the Sheriff's Office so we can hopefully locate this vehicle."

Captain Christiansen says they've alerted all the local dealerships and repair shops to be on the lookout for this car. They're asking anyone who might know something about the accident to give them a call at the Rock County Sheriff's Department.

UPDATED Monday, April 21, 2014 --- 5:48 a.m.

Deputies from the Rock County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to a report of a crash involving a vehicle versus a group of motorcycles on Highway 14 in Harmony Township.

On arrival, deputies found two motorcyclists, Mitchell J. Vance, age 24, of Janesville, and Devin J. Julius, age 18, also of Janesville lying in the roadway. Both of their motorcycles were found severely damaged, in the westbound lane of traffic, and it was reported the suspect vehicle, possibly a mid sized Nissan SUV, had fled the scene of the crash.

The investigation shows a group of five motorcycles were riding staggered, traveling westbound on Highway 14 behind a maroon, 2000 Toyota Sienna. When the driver of the Toyota took evasive action to avoid a mid sized Nissan SUV that crossed over the centerline traveling eastbound.

The Nissan then struck the lead motorcycle driven by Vance, and then struck the following motorcycle driven by Julius and ejected both men.

The other three motorcyclists were able to take evasive action to avoid the collision altogether. The Nissan then fled the scene of the crash in an unknown direction of travel.

Julius was transported to Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center in Janesville where he was pronounced dead. Vance was pronounced dead on scene by a Rock County Deputy Coroner.

The Sheriff's Office is seeking information on anyone who might have witnessed a mid sized, Nissan SUV in the area at the time of the crash. The vehicle would likely have front and driver's side damage, including a missing headlight assembly and a missing wheel well cover. Anyone who sees a vehicle matching this description is strongly urged to call the Rock County Communications Center.


UPDATED Sunday, April 20, 2014 --- 11:07 p.m.

At least one man is dead after a crash on highway 14, around 8:00 p.m. Initial reports indicate that two out of five motorcycles were hit by an SUV. Both riders were on their motorcycles alone. First responders found one rider was dead on arrival. The second rider was transferred to Mercy Hospital with undisclosed injuries.

Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2014 --- 9:40 p.m.

Janesville police officers along with Rock County Sheriff's deputies are currently on the scene of a crash with injuries on the 4300 block of East Highway 14. Drivers are asked to avoid the area until the victims can receive medical attention and the scene can be safely cleared.

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