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Bail raised for Candy Cane Lane hit-and-run suspect

Prosecutors believe Cheema is a flight risk

INDIO, Calif. - Bail has been raised for a 21-year-old Palm Springs man who allegedly struck a pedestrian with his car near the Candy Cane Lane area of Cathedral City, then fled the scene.

Arvinder Singh Cheema was in custody in lieu of $50,000 bail, but the judge raised Cheema's bail to $300,000 during the arraignment.

Arrest made in hit-and-run near Candy Cane Lane

Prosecutors said Cheema told officers with the Cathedral City Police Department that he would go back to India as soon as he got out of jail. According to investigators, Cheema holds citizenship and has family in India.

Cheema was arrested Saturday in connection with the Dec. 21 hit-and-run in which the victim, Melanie Azterbaum of Thermal, was struck in the 68200 block of Bella Vista Road.  The severity of the pedestrian's injuries were not disclosed by police, but family has confirmed with KESQ and CBS Local 2 that Azterbaum is recovering at Desert Regional Medical Center.

Woman recovering after hit-and-run near Candy Cane Lane

The crash scene is not far from elaborately decorated homes on Minerva Road, known as "Candy Cane Lane" during the holiday season. A yellow Camaro was seen speeding away from the area following the 7 p.m. collision, and "multiple tips from residents" helped police determine the identity of the driver, Cathedral City police Cmdr. Julio Luna said.

Cheema was arrested at his home in Palm Springs about 8 p.m. Dec. 23. In addition to hit-and-run, Cheema faces a great bodily injury allegation and two counts of dissuading witnesses. Court records show that a bench warrant was issued by a judge in November after he was charged with driving without a license.

The judge demanded Cheema's passport. He is currently still in custody and is due back in court on January 9. 


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