Rogers man gets six years for hitting passenger who fell from van

BENTONVILLE — A Rogers man has been sentenced to six years in prison after admitting to killing a man by running him over when he fell from a pickup truck.

Miguel Vega, 40, pleaded guilty on Monday to manslaughter, leaving the scene of a bodily accident and endangering the well-being of a minor. The plea is under an agreement George McManus, Vega’s attorney, made with Thomas Gean, assistant district attorney.

Benton County Circuit Judge Robin Green accepted Vega’s guilty plea.

Last July, authorities found the body of Lester Salcedo, 27, of Centerton in a field off Phillips Cemetery Road between Highfill and Cave Springs.

Vega was arrested on July 22, 2021 by Tontitown police in connection with public intoxication after a police officer encountered him running east on US 412, according to a probable cause affidavit. The officer asked Vega if an abandoned van nearby was his. Vega said yes, but he wasn’t the one driving, according to the affidavit.

Vega told police that Salcedo was in the van, but now he didn’t know where Salcedo was. He said the two men had an argument, the affidavit states.

Tontitown police later learned that a missing person report on Salcedo had been filed with Centerton police.

The police pinged Vega’s phone, thinking he might be near Salcedo. The ping returned with a general location of Mill Dam Road and Philpott Road.

This led authorities to a field at 11104 Phillips Cemetery Road in Benton County. Police found Salcedo’s body surrounded by tire tracks where a vehicle was circling, according to the affidavit.

A 12-year-old boy later told police he was with Vega and Salcedo, and that the couple drank a “strange” drink from a jar, according to the affidavit. The boy said the two continued to drink in the van.

The boy said he was in the backseat of the van while Vega was driving and Salcedo was in the passenger seat, according to the affidavit. He said they started circling in a field, but the passenger door didn’t lock and Salcedo fell out of the pickup. He said Salcedo was dirty after falling off the pickup, and Vega and Salcedo laughed it off, according to the affidavit.

They started circling again and the door opened a second time. Salcedo fell and the pickup crushed him, the affidavit states.

Vega stopped the pickup. The boy said he checked Salcedo’s pulse and it was weak. The boy said he felt broken ribs when he pressed on Salcedo’s chest, according to the affidavit.