MERCED, California. (KGPE) – The family of a young UC Merced student killed in a hit-and-run spoke out Wednesday.
According to the California Highway Patrol, 22-year-old Brian Chuc was riding his bicycle Monday around 8 p.m. when 64-year-old Michael Harris crashed into him and killed him then left the scene. Sgt. Luis Lara with the CHP said Chuc wasn’t breaking any traffic laws.
“It’s just not the same without our brother here, it’s just, he’s taken… That man has taken someone that we really love. He was so young and he had a lot more for his life,” younger brother Christopher Chuc said.
The family is grieving back home in Los Angeles. They said the sociology major was extremely driven and active on campus and he was the first in his family to go to college.
Chuc’s father Edwin said he inspired his two younger brothers.
“He was a great example for us, especially me, because I really looked up to him,” Christopher said.
According to the CHP Harris was driving behind Chuc on Bellevue near Utah and for some reason, he crashed into Chuc with extreme force.
“It appeared to be that the bicyclist went over onto the hood, through the windshield, and onto the roof,” Sgt. Lara said.
Lara said Harris lost his license plate at the scene and after contacting him he claimed he thought he’d hit a deer.
Police said he had driven all the way to Bakersfield, where he was taken into custody, with a completely shattered windshield and heavy body damage.
A church website where he lives, in Santa Paula, lists Harris as the lead pastor. Neither the Church nor Harris responded to requests for comment.
Chuc’s family said an arrest brings relief, but the suspect should never have left.
“He didn’t help him out. He just left him in the ground just to rot, just to die and that’s not right,” Christopher said.
“(The suspect didn’t) stay there, he left. He (didn’t) have a heart — To leave my son over there, and he died,” Edwin said.
UC Merced will be holding a virtual moment of silence for Chuc on Friday.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Chuc’s family.