Charges still pending in year-old fatal hit-and-run 

Signal file photo of CHP Newhall office
Signal file photo of CHP Newhall office

California Highway Patrol officers are still working to bring to justice the driver they think is responsible for a fatal hit-and-run collision in Agua Dulce in early 2023, officers said Monday. 

Frustrated family members of Jeff Engels’ family have been waiting for answers since the tragedy on Feb. 7, 2023. 

On that day, Engels was driving his green Honda motorcycle northbound on Soledad Canyon Road, just south of the 6800 block in Agua Dulce, around 6 p.m., when a truck pulled right in front of Engels, according to investigators from the CHP in court records obtained by The Signal. 

After the collision, the driver continued to make the turn, and sped away, dragging the motorcycle and the victim, who was dislodged after about 1,300 feet, according to the report. 

“The subject vehicle could be tracked for several miles due to loss of vehicle fluids until the subject pulled off the roadway and appeared to have backed the truck up several times until the motorcycle was dislodged,” at which point the driver took off heading south, according to sworn statements from officers in court records.  

After their investigation, officers identified that James Preston Fulton, 60, who lives not far from the crash site on Soledad Canyon Road, was the driver.  

Fulton was driving a white 2002 Ford F-450 ahead of the motorcycle, and then in order to make a U-turn, according to an officer’s report, he pulled over to the right shoulder, and then proceeded to pull across the north and southbound lanes to turn around, directly in the path of Engels’ motorcycle, according to a report of the crash. 

Officers investigating the crash the following day obtained video footage, witness statements and evidence from where Fulton lived, where his white Ford F-450 truck was found. 

At the property where Fulton had his truck parked, officers found evidence linking the truck to the crime scene, including “green paint flakes and small pieces of metal with green paint (consistent to having come from the victim’s motorcycle) were located attached to the left side damaged running board and on the rear left gate assembly,” according to a sworn affidavit from officers. 

Biological tissue and clothing fibers that appeared to match items worn by the victim were found in the vehicle’s undercarriage, as well as “a large amount of marijuana,” according to a search warrant inventory from officers. The truck also was seized as evidence. 

Officers have not yet presented a case to the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office pending lab analysis of evidence that investigators believe will link Fulton to the crime scene. 

Once investigators have finished collecting their evidence, the case is expected to be presented for filing in the Lancaster courthouse, due to that courthouse’s proximity to where the crime occurred, according to Josh Greengard, spokesman for the CHP’s Newhall area office.   

A spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office confirmed Fulton already has an active case there that stems from an incident that allegedly took place less than two weeks after Engels’ fatal collision. 

In April, he was held to answer to two counts of grand theft and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon with force, possible great bodily injury, according to Pamela Johnson with the DA’s office. 

His pretrial hearing for that case was continued to March 20 in Department A21 of the Antelope Valley courthouse. 

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