Lethal end to birthday | TheUnion.com

Lethal end to birthday

He promised his family he would not drive after celebrating his 21st birthday at a Nevada City bar Friday night and early Saturday morning.

Peter Owen Vodonick kept the pledge and chose to walk home, but he could not have predicted he would become a victim of an apparent hit-and-run on Highway 20, east of Nevada City.

“He was sweet, outgoing and friendly,” said his sister, Jessamyn Vodonick, Monday.

Vodonick turned 21 Friday. That night, he met a few friends at the Crazy Horse Saloon to celebrate, his sister said. At the bar, he ran into Jake Hendrickson, his friend of six years, since the two were classmates at Sierra Foothill High School.

Hendrickson said he wished his friend a happy birthday and went home a couple of minutes later.

According to the California Highway Patrol, Vodonick did not want to wait for a cab at about 2 a.m. Saturday and decided to make the five-mile trek to his home on Willow Valley Road. Jessamyn Vodonick said it is also possible that her brother got a ride for part of the way. She said she heard he might have been seen at the 5 Mile House off Highway 20.

“We made him promise that he would not be driving,” Jessamyn Vodonick said.

At about 2:23 a.m., Peter Vodonick was walking east, along the westbound shoulder of the highway, CHP Officer Greg Thys said. When he was just east of Cielo Road, he was struck by a passing motorist who did not stop. Vodonick suffered a broken neck. The body was found some time later by a passing Nevada County Sheriff’s Office deputy and a semi driver.

There is no evidence leading authorities to believe Vodonick was in the road at the time of his death, Thys said.

Vodonick was an amateur DJ and rapper and has recorded a couple of CDs and performed locally, Hendrickson said.

“He had a lot of friends,” Hendrickson said. “He was a popular kid.”

The highway patrol does not have any suspects in the death but is looking for a blonde white woman in her 30s who was seen driving a red Jeep CJ7 in Nevada City. Those with information can call the highway patrol at 273-4415.

“We just really want to know what happened,” Jessamyn Vodonick said. “What if he was still alive and could have been taken to the hospital? What kind of person would hit a human being and keep going?”

How to help

The California Highway Patrol is looking for a blonde white woman in her 30s, who was seen driving a red Jeep CJ7 – similar to a Wrangler – in Nevada City early Saturday morning. She is believed to possibly know who struck and killed Peter Vodonick.

Those with information are asked to call the highway patrol at 273-4415.

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