Report: Man involved in fatal Indian River County hit-and-run said he thought he hit a hog

Francisco Magana Cendejas (IRCSO)

An 18-year-old man was arrested for reportedly hitting and killing 19-year-old Desmond Francis Johnson last week, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

Francisco Magana Cendejas, of Vero Beach, is accused of leaving the scene of a fatal crash, according to the FHP. Johnson's body was found in the bushes last Saturday on County Road 613, just south of 37th Street, after he had been reported missing earlier that day.

Troopers say his body had obviously been left there for some time.

Two witnesses told troopers that they were driving north on County Road 613 when a red pickup truck approached them from behind, then sped past them in the southbound lane, according to the FHP. They said the entire front left quarter panel was torn away from the truck. They saw the truck stop and two males in black pants and white shirts picking up pieces of the truck.

On Monday, a man walked into the Indian River County Sheriff's Office saying he had information about the crash, the FHP said. Walker told detectives that when he left his job at John's Island last Thursday night, fellow employee Cendejas and another coworker followed him, as usual, until they headed north of State Road 60. On Thursday, Cendejas and the employee followed the man in Cendejas' red Nissan Titan pickup truck. Both vehicles were driving west on State Road 60, but at 58th Avenue, Cendejas turned north and the man continued west.

Moments later, the man got a phone call from Cendejas, saying he hit a hog on 58th Avenue and needed help cleaning up debris, the FHP said. The man drove to the area , where he saw the pair walking between the wood line and roadway. The truck was missing the driver's side wheel well and front bumper. The man helped them pick up debris and walked the area with them, and didn't see anything they could've hit. After cleaning up the debris, everyone went home.

Last Friday, the man saw a news article saying a body was found in the same area where Cendejas said he hit the hog, according to the FHP. He asked Cendejas if he saw the article and said his demeanor "changed right away." He was very quiet and upset on Saturday, to the point where he got sent home from work.

The man said he told him every day since Friday that he needed to go to the sheriff's office, the FHP said. On Sunday, Walker told Cendejas that he was going to the sheriff's office on Monday. He said he had texted Cendejas about the situation, but said he deletes his texts regularly to save space. The last text he got from Cendejas said he told his dad what happened.

He also told detectives the Nissan was at Perfect Auto Body In Vero Beach, according to the FHP. Detectives were dispatched to the business to secure it.

Cendejas was detained at Sebastian River High School and told detectives he thought he hit a hog while heading to the County Fair, the FHP said. However, he later admitted he knew he hit a person who was walking in the roadway, but didn't see anyone when he came back to search the scene.

He was placed under arrest and taken to the Indian River County Jail.


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