Man drove with hit-and-run victims body lodged in car

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HOUSTON – Charges are pending against a driver who struck and killed a pedestrian early Tuesday on a southeast Houston freeway, fleeing the scene with the victim’s body still lodged in the car, according to Houston police.

The 32-year-old male victim pulled his Ford Explorer into the emergency lane on the left side of the southbound Gulf Freeway near Fuqua after it broke down around 12:30 a.m., the Houston Police Department said. He was running back and forth across the lanes of the freeway when James John Onak, 49, struck him with his black Mazda 626.

The impact was so hard, the victim went through the windshield and came to rest in the front passenger seat, but that did not stop Onak, according to police. They said Onak continued traveling with the body for a few miles until a Harris County Precinct 8 deputy constable pulled the car over on Beamer near Kirkvalley.

The deputy said he noticed the Mazda had extensive front-end damage and a deceased person in the seat.

Onak said he was aware he hit something, but was not aware a body was lying beside him, according to police.

Onak was then placed under arrest and a mandatory blood draw was issued.

He is now facing a felony charge of failure to stop and render aid and a misdemeanor charge of tampering with evidence.

All southbound lanes of the freeway were shut down several hours while authorities investigated.

The victim’s identity is pending verification by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.