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Texas sheriff’s deputy arrested in Riverside hit-and-run that killed father of seven

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A Texas sheriff’s deputy was arrested and charged in the fatal hit-and-run that killed a father of seven in Riverside last week, authorities announced.

Giovanni Ceja, a five-year veteran of the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, was visiting family in Riverside when he was involved in the fatal crash, according to the Texas sheriff’s department.

Ceja, a county jail deputy, borrowed a car from a family member on Aug. 6 and drove to a bar where he had “multiple alcoholic beverages,” the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office said.

The deputy then got behind the wheel in the early-morning hours of Aug. 7 and drove home, investigators said. He crashed into Gilberto Sotelo, a Riverside resident who had run out of gas on the side of the I-215 near the 91 Freeway interchange, deputies said.

Sotelo was returning home from visiting the grave of his sister, Rosio Ibarra, who was killed in a car crash in August 2015. Sotelo had fixed up the family’s old Chevrolet Silverado, but a problem with the gas tank caused him to run out of fuel on the freeway, his brother told The Times.

Sotelo stopped on the shoulder of the freeway to fill up his tank, and his wife and young child came out to help him. They were sitting in a separate car when Sotelo was struck and killed.

“Ceja did not stop to render aid and fled the scene,” the sheriff’s office said.

The California Highway Patrol issued warrants for Ceja’s arrest — for murder, driving under the influence and hit-and-run causing death. When Texas officials learned of the warrants, they took Ceja into custody, and the deputy resigned and was given a dishonorable discharge, according to the sheriff’s office.

He is being held in a Texas jail awaiting extradition to California.

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