[PHOTO CREDIT: Lake County Sheriff’s Office]
[Original Publish Date: 09/13/20]
TAVARES, Florida — A pair of Astatula residents were arrested earlier this month in connection with the death of a motorcyclist at County Road 561 and State Road 19 on June 30.
Around 9:30 p.m. June 30, Luis Cintron was riding a motorcycle northbound on State Road 19 when a Chevrolet Silverado being driven by 33-year-old Brandon Matthew Welch, turned in front of him. Cintron struck the front fender of the Silverado, killing him, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Welch did not stop to help Cintron and he left the scene; video from a nearby McDonald’s and Kangaroo Express shows Welch leaving the scene and pulling up to gas pump no. 8 at Kangaroo Express. Gabrielle Kawehioralan Hilongo, 30, exits the passenger side of the Silverado and flees southbound before she returns five to six minutes later; Welch “casually” walks northbound towards the crash scene, the affidavit states. Welch is then seen on McDonald’s surveillance video opening the north facing door and returning to the truck before finally making contact with law enforcement. Hilongo returns and walks northbound but does not stop at the truck. Neither Welch or Hilongo called 9-1-1 or attempted to help Cintron. A witness told police she did not recall seeing Hilongo or Welch on the scene and offered the pair condolences after the crash because she thought they were related to Cintron.
Tavares Police officers arrived on scene four minutes after the crash and began rendering aid to Cintron, and about 20 minutes after the crash Welch finally identified himself as the driver of the Silverado, to a TPD sergeant. However, Hilongo told a TPD detective she was driving, and Welch stated he was the passenger, even though the video clearly shows Welch was driving.
“It is believed Hilongo said that she was driving the vehicle because Welch had been drinking the night of the crash. I could tell Welch had been drinking due to his slurred speech, glossy eyes, and dry mouth,” the detective stated in the affidavit.
Welch was picked up on a warrant Sept. 4 and charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving death and false information to law enforcement. He was released from the Lake County Jail on $30,000 bond. Hilongo was charged with false information to law enforcement and accessory after the fact. She was arrested Wednesday and released from the LCJ on $20,000 bond. Jail records show the pair have the same address, but the relationship between them is unclear.
Our Editor-in-Chief, Marilyn M. Aciego, began writing for Lake Legal News in 2010. Born and raised in Lake County, she is a graduate of Umatilla High School and Lake-Sumter State College. She started her journalism career at LSSC, where she was editor of both student publications, The Angler and The Odyssey. Her professional career began at the Daily Commercial in 2004 where she covered cops and courts the majority of her time there until she left in 2009. Currently, along with being Editor-in-Chief of Lake Legal News, she is the Florida bureau chief for an international media organization. She has made more than two dozen appearances on live national television, including Nancy Grace and the Greta Van Susteren show, along with her appearance on Evil Twins. Contact her with breaking news, tips, and feedback by sending an e-mail to 352Tips@gmail.com. You can also contact us on our Facebook page — and make sure you “Like” and “Follow us” there. [PHOTO CREDIT: Bonnie Whicher]