Police ID body as missing man

Monterey County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team return to the area where Julian Lopez’s body was found to recover more remains Oct. 5. (Contributed Photo)

Julian Lopez was victim in 2017 DUI crash on bridge

GREENFIELD — Monterey County Sheriff’s Office has identified the body found last week as the missing Greenfield man who was struck by a vehicle and thrown into the river off a local bridge in February 2017.

“It is with sadness that we report the Coroner’s Office confirmed, through dental records, that the remains found last week have been identified as Julian Lopez,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post dated Oct. 4. “We want to offer our heartfelt condolences to the family of Julian, who was a fellow employee of Monterey County.”

Detectives from the Sheriff’s Office responded Sept. 28 to an undisclosed location near Greenfield, where human remains had been discovered.

An investigation was started to see if the body was that of 33-year-old Julian Lopez of Greenfield.

On Oct. 4, the Sheriff’s Office reported that the Monterey County coroner positively identified the body as Lopez through dental records. The next day, Oct. 5, the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team returned to the area where he was found and recovered more remains.

“This is an important part to help close up the investigation,” the Sheriff’s Office said. “It is our hope this will also help the family find some closure to the incident.”

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 at the time 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 until recently.

Sanchez pled guilty to the incident earlier this year and was sentenced to nearly 13 years in prison.


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