One of the two people struck and killed during a deliberate hit-and-run on New Year’s Day was a Good Samaritan who stopped to help a woman being assaulted.
Just before 4 a.m. Wednesday Patrick Balbastro, 32, and a female passenger, were driving home when he saw a man assaulting a woman in the 2200 block of East Sunland Vista, near East 36th Street and South Campbell Avenue.
Balbastro called 911 to report the altercation and told the emergency dispatcher he had to help the woman, said Sgt. Chris Widmer, spokesman for the Tucson Police Department. Multiple calls were made to 911 regarding the assault.
When Balbastro got out of his car to help the woman, the suspect attacked him. At some point during the attack, the passenger got out of Balbastro’s car, Widmer said.
After the assault, the suspect got into Balbastro’s car and “aggressively use the vehicle as a weapon to strike all three victims multiple times,” Widmer said.
The suspect fled the scene and abandoned the vehicle after hitting a tree near East Sunland Vista and South Campbell Avenue. He may have been injured in the crash, Widmer said.
The woman who was assaulted, Cindy Burnett, 47, died at the scene. Balbastro succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital. Balbastro’s 43-year-old passenger is hospitalized with life-threatening injuries, Widmer said.
Minutes before the double homicide, Burnett and the suspect were dropped off in the area by a taxi. Police are still trying to find the driver of the cab who may be a “critical witness” in the case, Widmer said.
The taxi may have picked up Burnett downtown. She was seen at about 2 p.m. at the Junxion Bar, 63 East Congress Street, Widmer said.
“We don’t know who the suspect is so if someone knows who she was with or maybe saw her get in the taxi, it may help us identify the taxi driver or may help us identify the suspect,” Widmer said.
Anyone with information should call 911 or 88-CRIME.