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Police find car believed to have run down firefighter

December 2, 2011 9:00:51 AM PST
San Francisco police found Thursday afternoon the car they believe was used to run down a Cal Fire firefighter in the city's Richmond District early Thanksgiving morning.

Investigators found the car, which police describe as a black 2001 Mazda CX-7 with California license plate 6SYV525, around 4:15 p.m. Thursday near West Point and Middle Point streets in the city's Hunters Point neighborhood.

The vehicle was towed to a police impound and will be processed by investigators.

Police believe the car was driven by Eduardo Esquivel, 22, who was arrested late Tuesday night on suspicion of intentionally striking 29-year-old Albert Bartal near the intersection of Ninth Avenue and Geary Boulevard around 3:45 a.m. on Nov. 24, police said.

Bartal was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where he remains with life-threatening injuries. He has worked for the past five years as a Cal Fire seasonal firefighter and is also an Iraq war veteran.

Esquivel was arrested late Tuesday in South San Francisco after investigators released surveillance video and photos from the restaurant and a San Francisco police officer identified him from the footage.

He is expected to make his initial appearance in San Francisco Superior Court this afternoon, prosecutors said.

Bartal's mother, Patricia Bartal, released a statement Wednesday saying she was "relieved to learn that a suspect has been apprehended" in the case.

She said her son is "a kind, thoughtful, hard-working man" who has "a long road ahead" in his recovery.

A relief fund has been set up for Bartal and his family. People may make donations to account No. 1379608 at the San Francisco Police Credit Union at 2550 Irving St., CA 94122.

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