Suspect arrested in fatal hit-and-run on West Valley freeway ramp

Dec 28, 2022, 11:23 AM | Updated: 11:26 am

Jonathan Baldizon (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)...

Jonathan Baldizon (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)

(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)

PHOENIX — A suspect in a fatal hit-and-run collision on a West Valley freeway ramp last week has been arrested, authorities said.

Jonathan Baldizon, 30, was taken into custody Monday for failure to remain at the scene of an accident involving injury or death.

He is accused of hitting Nicole Cortez, 33, on the southbound Loop 101 Agua Fria Freeway exit ramp to Peoria Avenue in the early hours of Dec. 19 and then driving off.

When Arizona Department of Transportation troopers arrived at the scene after 2:30 a.m., they found a car stopped in the middle of the ramp with its hazard lights on and the driver-side door open.

Cortez’s body was found down an embankment next to the car, according to court documents.

Investigators found evidence that implicated a 2010-2014 Dodge Challenger, and DPS put out a bulletin about the suspected vehicle.

According to the probable cause statement for Baldizon’s arrest, DPS received a tip Monday morning about a Challenger in Tolleson with damages that matched the debris found at the scene.

Detectives served a search warrant at the residence and talked to the Challenger’s registered owner, who said Baldizon was driving the car at the time of the freeway ramp incident.

After being taken into custody and read his rights, Baldizon said he was driving home from work and acknowledged hitting a car while he exited the freeway, according to the probable cause statement.

He said he stopped and looked around but didn’t see anybody, and then he drove away because he doesn’t have a license.

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Suspect arrested in fatal hit-and-run on West Valley freeway ramp