Palm Springs police are still investigating a hit and run on New Year’s day that nearly killed a man outside Toucan’s nightclub. Months later, the victim’s partner is pleading with police to prioritize the case but he said all he’s received is a busy signal.
Jeffrey Billinger, the partner of Hector Beleche, the victim struck by the speeding vehicle, said he’s reached out to the police department about leads on vehicle information, video surveillance, and even possible suspects. He said the department has turned a blind eye.
Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes said while they could have done more, they did their due diligence at the scene.
Shortly after midnight, the day of the accident, Jeffrey returned to the hotel where the couple was staying, leaving Hector at the nightclub.
When Hector didn’t return to the hotel by 4:00 a.m., his partner became concerned.
Eventually, Jeffrey discovered Hector had been struck by a speeding hit and run vehicle on North Palm Canyon Drive.
“The stoplight here is new, the walk sign is new, the light across the street is new,” Jeffrey said, pointing at new progress on the dangerous intersection. “They’ve completely added everything new since the accident.”
Chief Reyes said police handle hundreds of collisions with a small crew. On Monday, he said there were three collisions in a few hours.
“We probably handle over 500 traffic collisions a year so it varies in regards to who’s going to address what collision at any given time and how many resources you’re going to provide,” Reyes said.
Jeffrey said the investigators that night missed essential evidence including a piece of the car that broke off, on it was a part number. A Google search determined the car was a Mazda Miata.
“When he brought that to our attention, we already had other pieces of the vehicle and photographs that identified that vehicle to be between 2016 and 2019 Mazda Miata,” Reyes said.
Reyes admits there’s a lot in the case they don’t know.
“We feel confident that two vehicles ran over this individual and we gotta keep in mind that we need to find out who these people are but also be able to determine if they are even aware that they ran over somebody,” Reyes said.
Questions that Jeffrey said could have been answered with a greater sense of urgency.
“At this point, I’m more angry with them, I don’t understand why they can’t do their jobs, if it’s under staffing or they just have no priorities,” Jeffrey said.
“There is room for improvement, where I think we can improve is in the sharing of information to the general public that’s asking for help in a quicker timing,” Reyes said.
Join NBC Palm Springs on Tuesday to learn more about the video cameras at play in this incident.