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Driver pleads guilty in hit-and-run death of marathoner in Fountain Valley

John Motesharrei, 40, pleaded guilty to felony hit-and-run with permanent and serious injury and misdemeanor hit-and-run with property damage.
(Courtesy of Fountain Valley Police Department)

A Fountain Valley man pleaded guilty Tuesday to a hit-and-run in August that killed an area marathoner near Mile Square Regional Park.

John Motesharrei pleaded guilty to felony hit-and-run with permanent and serious injury and misdemeanor hit-and-run with property damage, according to court records. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 9 in Orange County Superior Court. He faces up to four years in state prison, according to the county district attorney’s office.

Fountain Valley police were called around 9 p.m. Aug. 23 to a crash along Brookhurst Street between Warner and Heil avenues. Officers found a man on the northbound section of the road near the right shoulder, said police Sgt. Kham Vang. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Witnesses told officers that a light-colored Ford SUV had struck the man while he was jogging and fled, Vang said.


Orange County running enthusiast Juan Ramirez Garcia, who died in a hit-and-run in August in Fountain Valley, is pictured with friend and running companion Sylvia Mosqueda.
(Courtesy of Diane Daruty )

Orange County coroner’s officials identified the runner as Juan Ramirez Garcia, 48, of Santa Ana. Ramirez typically ran 70 miles per week and completed more than 20 marathons, said Diane Daruty, a member of the Newport-Mesa Spirit Run’s board of directors. He was a star of the Cal Coast Running Club and won the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon in 2008.

On Aug. 24, investigators found a white Ford SUV in Westminster that they suspected was involved in the crash. Motesharrei was arrested on suspicion of hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter, according to police.

Bill Sumner, head coach of the Cal Coast Running Club and Corona del Mar High School’s track team, said the running club is more focused on remembering Ramirez’s kindness and accomplishments than on the driver’s upcoming sentencing.


“Everybody thought there should be consequences, but nobody really wanted to talk about the consequences,” Sumner said. “There’s enough sadness and pain in this world to go around.”

DANIEL LANGHORNE is a contributor to Times Community News.


1:05 p.m.: This article was updated with Motesharrei’s possible sentence and Bill Sumner’s comments.

This article was originally published at 10:05 a.m.