Suspect's Troubled Past

Published 08/15 2014 11:27PM

Updated 08/15 2014 11:54PM

The awful crash scene at Herndon and Fresno St. Thursday morning continues to generate feelings of anger and sadness in the Fresno community.  45-year old Roberta Soto was allegedly behind the wheel of a stolen car and ran a red light while under the influence of meth.

“No regard for the safety and well being of other motorists.  Ultimately we have a loss of life and a family that's impacted forever,” said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer calls meth, the root of the problem.  He says the drug consumes Soto’s life just as it does so many others.

“Methamphetamine use drives our crime rates in terms of thefts, auto thefts, robberies, violence.  Gang members are involved in methamphetamine,” said Chief Dyer.

Soto's court records show she has been arrested 18 times during the last 26 years.  Most were tied to theft and drug possession, which Dyer says go hand in hand.

“it is not something you can try and walk away from.  Generally it takes over your life.”

We found photos, open to the public, on Matthew Harkenrider's Facebook page.  On it, he's celebrating his wedding last year.  Matt has a young daughter and an identical twin brother as well.  Relatives say the two were supposed to meet up for a round of golf Thursday, but Matt was hit while driving to the course.

“There's something special about twins and they were inseparable and my heart really hurts for the family,” said Aaron Eames, a teacher at Yosemite High School.

Aaron Eames of Yosemite High School in Oakhurst used to be the boys' football coach.  He has good memories of Matt.

“He was a great baseball player, a great football player, he could do anything.  But more than that he was just a carefree kid, easy to be around,” said Eames.

Chief Dyer says buried inside this tragic collision is a very important message.

“For our youth to look and see with the impact is of drug use and methamphetamine use and to stay away from it at all costs,” said Chief Dyer.

A Matthew Harkenrider memorial account has been set up at Educational Employees Credit Union.  If you would like to help his family, just visit any EECU branch.

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