New details in bizarre death of Nevada hit-and-run suspect


SPARKS, Nev. (AP) – Police investigating the bizarre Nevada death of a hit-and-run suspect driving a stolen pickup say he probably died from a medical condition after he struck a bicyclist – who jumped into the fleeing truck’s bed – before he crashed again and ran off as the bicyclist gave chase.

The few sketchy details Sparks police initially released after the driver, Zayven Mergan, died Sunday didn’t rule out the possibility the bicyclist had played a role in the driver’s death after he caught up with him.

But police said in a statement on Thursday that “all indications are that Mergan passed away due to some sort of medical issue.”

Based on witness accounts and video footage, “there is no reason to believe that there was physical altercation that led to Mergan’s collapse and death,” police said.

“An initial medical examination by the Medical Examiner’s office showed no signs of physical trauma that may have led to Mergan’s death,” the statement said.

Police are continuing to investigate, and the “case will remain open pending final medical examiners findings and toxicology results which will take several weeks.”

The new statement police released Thursday provided numerous details that weren’t included in the initial report about the complicated chain of events that began shortly before 5 p.m. April 9 when emergency first responders arrived at the scene in west Sparks just east of Reno.

The original report said the driver of a Dodge Dakota fled the scene of the second collision on foot a few blocks from where he hit the bicyclist, and that “the original victim bicyclist was seen chasing the suspect driver.”

“Within a few minutes, officers located the victim male bicyclist and the suspect driver,” police said at the time. Both were taken to the hospital, the suspect driver had since “succumbed to his injuries,” and “the cause and manner of death” was under investigation.

On Thursday, police said a preliminary investigation indicates Mergan was beginning to flee the scene of the first accident in a stolen truck when “the victim bicyclist jumped into the bed of the pickup … to prevent his escape.”

“When Mergan crashed a second time, he fled on foot and the bicyclist followed on foot. After running a couple hundred yards, Mergan was exhausted and stopped,” police said.

“The bicyclist caught up and verbally attempted to convince Mergan to stay put for authorities. Mergan threw an item at the bicyclist and began to flee on foot again,” the new statement said.

“Mergan only went a very short distance before collapsing and was unresponsive when police and medics arrived. … There was no police intervention or force used in this incident,” police said.

The name of the bicyclist has not been released.


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