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James John Onak, Driver: What Dead Guy in My Front Passenger Seat, Officer?

When a cop pulls you over because your windshield is shattered, your front end is crumpled and -- as he points out to you -- you seem to have a dead person sitting next to you in the front seat, what are your options?

a) Ask "What seems to be the problem, officer?" b) Start madly spinning a tale of escaping an Uzi ambush and trying to find a hospital to take your wounded friend to c) Admit that yeah, you hit something on the highway a couple of minutes ago, but say you were unaware there was a dead body sitting next to you.

James John Onak, 49, took the third option this morning and now faces criminal charges. "Onak was believed to be under the influence," HPD says, stunningly.

He's facing a felony charge of failure to stop and render aid and a misdemeanor charge of tampering with evidence. A blood test was taken, and further charges may come from it, HPD says. (Update: They've added a DWI charge and felony accident involving injury.)

Police say Onak was driving his Mazda 626 on the Gulf Freeway about 12:30 a.m. when he hit a man who had stopped when his car broke down and was "running back and forth across the freeway." The name of the 32-year-old male victim has not been released.

Onak continued driving until he was pulled over about three miles later by a deputy constable at Beamer Road at Kirkvalley.

"According to the deputy, the Mazda had extensive front-end damage and he observed the deceased victim in the front passenger seat," HPD says. "The driver advised the deputy that he had hit something on the freeway but was not aware the victim was lying in the passenger seat."

Yeah, he might have been under the influence.


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