Search for hit-and-run driver leads police to arrest parolee

A man on parole for attempted murder was arrested Tuesday for allegedly killing a 57-year-old school chef in a recent hit-and-run incident.

After a week of searching for the driver of a Chevrolet Blazer, the car that apparently struck and killed Daly City resident James Martin, authorities arrested 28-year-old Russell Real as he was walking on Junipero Serra Boulevard. Authorities said Real was on his way to his attorney’s office to turn himself in.

Real, of Daly City, was charged with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and felony hit-and-run, police said.

Martin, who worked as a cook for Franklin Elementary School in Burlingame, was killed May 6 after his car collided with the Blazer at the intersection of Bellevue Avenue and Oliver Street in a residential neighborhood, only a block away from his home on Bellevue Avenue.

Daly City Capt. Mike Edwards said the fatal incident could be the second strike against Real, who is on parole for an attempted murder in Arkansas in which he shot a man in the face. He served six years in prison for the attempted murder.

Immediately after the May 6 crash, Real left his car parked at his Daly City home and fled, police said. Through Real’s relatives, police traced him to Silver Spring, Nev. Edwards said that Real admitted to police over the phone while in Nevada that he would return immediately to Daly City to surrender to authorities.

“I think he really was on his way to turn himself in when I saw him [Tuesday], but I didn’t want to take any chances,” said Detective Gregg Oglesby, the arresting officer.

Real said Tuesday that he ran a stop sign on May 6 that led to the fatal crash but that Martin also ran the sign, according to police. He said the floor mat in his car became stuck under the brake pedal, police said.

Martin’s family members said they doubted Real’s version of the story.

“I doubt if James ran a stop sign — he was very careful about everything,” said his cousin William Hines.

Nonetheless, family members and co-workers who gathered for Martin’s funeral Monday were glad to hear of the arrest.

“It’s closure, but it still doesn’t bring him back,” said Debbie Oustin, food service director for the Burlingame School District. “He did not deserve that way to end his life.”

svasilyuk@sfexaminer.com

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