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July 22, 2019

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Police: Hit-run suspect says he binged on beer before, after striking bicyclist

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Steve Marcus

A Metro Police officer shines a flashlight on a bicycle after a fatal hit-and-run accident on Flamingo Road Friday, Jan. 25, 2019.

Click to enlarge photo

Jorge Cardenas

When investigators finally caught up to him Friday night, the hit-and-run suspect was so drunk he could barely stand or walk. Hours earlier, he’d consumed about 100 ounces of beer, gotten behind the wheel of his minivan and fled a crash on the Las Vegas Strip, according to his arrest affidavit.

However, it wasn’t long before he barreled into a bicyclist, who was in a designated bike-bus lane.

Eusebio Mendez-Mateo died following the rules of the road.

After the fatal strike, Jorge Cardenas didn’t stop or slow down. Instead, he ditched the 2002 Honda Odyssey at a nearby casino and escaped on foot, all while a witness followed him and snapped a photo, according to a Metro Police affidavit.

While his whereabouts were unknown, Cardenas admitted he went on to drink another 100 ounces of Bud Ice, because “(expletive) it,” he knew he was going to jail, he told police.

Cardenas, 58, remained in the Clark County Detention Center on one count each of murder, reckless driving and failing to stop at the scene of an accident — all felonies, jail logs and court records show.

At about 2:30 p.m. Friday, Cardenas was buzzing eastbound on Flamingo Road when he veered into the far-right lane, walloping Mendez-Mateo from behind at Tuscany Casino Drive, police said.

Multiple witnesses reported seeing the violent impact. A motorist, who was passed by a speeding minivan, told investigators he saw the victim being thrown forward and then run over, according to police.

The same motorist followed Cardenas as he continued to speed recklessly on Flamingo, and he snapped photo of a Honda Odyssey with a damaged hood, police said.

But he briefly lost him when the suspect cut through a gas station to avoid traffic, the witness said. That’s when police said Cardenas entered the parking lot at the nearby Silver Sevens resort, according to the affidavit, and that’s where the witness spotted him again, on foot and shedding clothes.

In the lot, investigators found the abandoned, bloody Odyssey with extensive damage to its hood, windshield and roof, police said. More important, they located Cardenas’ identification card in the passenger compartment.

Soon, they had an address, but Cardenas wasn’t home, police said. Then they learned about his girlfriend’s house. He wasn’t there, but the woman told them she “wasn’t surprised” to hear about the crash, noting that her boyfriend regularly drinks and drives.

Later, the woman called to say Cardenas had showed up. There they found a man who could not walk nor could he stand without help.

Cardenas, through a translator, said he was aware of the crashes. He went on to say he drank four 24-ounce cans of beer before the crash, and four more after, according to the affidavit.

“The reasoning he gave for drinking after the collision was because he knew he was going to jail,” an officer wrote.

Cardenas, a Las Vegas resident, also was being held on a warrant for a separate case on accusations of driving without a driver’s license and illegal parking, jail logs show. Additionally, he was booked on a count of contempt of court for a third case.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the name of the bicyclist who was killed. | (January 30, 2019)