The run for a fugitive who fled the scene of a fatal crash at Centertown more than five years ago has come to an end after his capture in Atlanta.
The fugitive, Harlin Alvarez, 26, is due to be extradited back to Warren County in the coming days. He will face charges for the deaths of Billy Lynn Bell, 42, and Samantha Roach, 42, who were killed when the motorcycle on which they were riding was struck by Alvarez’s oncoming pickup. He left the scene of the accident on foot and has not been seen since the wreck in 2008.
According to Sheriff Jackie Matheny, U.S. Customs officers caught Alvarez trying to get on a plane bound for his native Guatemala. He reportedly gave the agents fictitious names but was eventually caught when they called him by his nickname “Gato.”
“We’re not sure if he was going back and forth to Guatemala or if he was just now leaving Atlanta,” Matheny said. “We knew that when he first fled after the wreck he was taken to Atlanta. We did a search there but Atlanta is a big place. It appears he must have stayed there or he was commuting back and forth.”
According to the crash investigation five years ago, Roach and Bell, both of whom were wearing helmets, were westbound on Nashville Highway, taking Bell’s motorcycle for an oil change. It was at that point an eastbound pickup driven by Alvarez crossed the centerline and entered the westbound lane, striking the cycle head-on.
Both victims were ejected from the motorcycle and fatally injured. The Alvarez vehicle suffered heavy damage and came to rest in a field on the opposite side of the road. The suspect, who lawmen believe was coming here to work on a roofing job, then ran off on foot leaving his wrecked vehicle.
While Alvarez was able to get away, a member of his family and a friend ended up going to jail for helping him during his flight from justice. Henry Alvarez, the suspect’s brother, and William Perez Lucas, both entered guilty pleas to helping the fugitive get out of town. They were sentenced to two years in prison and deported back to Guatemala after they served their time. They are illegal aliens as was Alvarez when he fled.
Along with warrants charging leaving the scene of an accident involving fatality, Alvarez is also looking at a $260 million dollar civil suit against him.