Body of missing man possibly found

‘Strong possibility’ that remains are DUI crash victim, sheriffs say

GREENFIELD — Monterey County Sheriff’s Office may have found the body of a Greenfield man who was struck by a vehicle and thrown into the river off a local bridge in February 2017, officials said Friday.

Detectives from the Sheriff’s Office responded Sept. 28 to an undisclosed scene near Greenfield, where human remains were discovered. An investigation has begun to see if the body is that of the missing man, 33-year-old Julian Lopez.

“While a ID has not been confirmed yet, there is a strong possibility the body located today is the victim from the call in 2017,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post Friday night.

Lopez was one of three pedestrians who were hit by a car Feb. 11, 2017, driven by Greenfield resident Nicanor De Jesus Sanchez, whose blood-alcohol level was .23, nearly three times the legal limit.

Sanchez, 23, had crashed his Honda Accord through a steel road closure gate at the Elm Avenue bridge east of Greenfield and spun out of control, striking the three pedestrians who were crushed between his car and a steel guard rail before being thrown into the Salinas River.

Two of the victims were able to make their way to the riverbank. Lopez, however, was carried downstream, and despite multiple search-and-rescue attempts, his body was never recovered.

Sanchez pled guilty in June to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence of alcohol causing great bodily injury. He was sentenced to 12 years and eight months in prison.