Urban Tragedy

Police make arrest in hit-and-run death of woman in Uptown Dallas

Police make arrest in hit-and-run death of woman in Uptown Dallas

Rachel Spelman
Rachel Spelman was killed in a hit-and-run accident in Uptown Dallas. Courtesy photo

An arrest has been made in the hit-and-run accident in Uptown Dallas that resulted in the death of 23-year-old Rachel Spelman. John Esparza, 29, was arrested in Madill, Oklahoma, by Dallas police who tracked him down after receiving a tip from a relative regarding his whereabouts.

Esparza has been charged with a second-degree felony for fleeing the scene of an accident resulting in death. Oklahoma authorities also recovered Esparza's four-door black sedan.

At a press conference on March 21, a spokesman for the Dallas Police Department said that detectives had traveled overnight to take Esparza into custody. He will be extradited back to Dallas at a later date.

Esparza was interviewed by detectives regarding his role in the accident. Information on where he was and his actions on the night of the accident persuaded the police he was "a strong suspect." Esparza's girlfriend was with him in Oklahoma, and was also interviewed by detectives, but the police concluded that Esparza was alone at the scene.

Esparza reportedly admitted he'd been drinking Saturday at Concrete Cowboy, near the accident. He's reported to have previously faced charges of driving while intoxicated, possession of marijuana, and evading arrest.

On March 18 at about 2:10 am, Spelman was running across the street in the 2200 block of Cedar Springs Road near Pearl Street, when she was hit by a car. She was pronounced dead at the scene. According to the police, after Spelman was struck, the driver of a dark sedan stopped and exited the vehicle. He walked back, looked at Spelman on the ground, then fled.

Spelman graduated magna cum laude from Texas A&M University in 2016, with a bachelor of arts in communication and a minor in business administration from the Mays School of Business.

She was a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority, the Student Communication Association (SCA), Lambda Pi Eta Honor Society, Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society, and Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society.

Despite its location in an urban, populous area, that block of Cedar Springs Road is an especially hazardous stretch for pedestrians, with crosswalks that are nonexistent or poorly marked. Some crosswalks that would be considered legal are not marked at all.