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Orem man charged with automobile homicide in fatal crash

Published September 3, 2013 10:03 pm

Courts • He admits to drinking about 10 to 12 beers that night, charges say.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

An Orem man was charged Tuesday for hitting and killing a woman with a SUV last month.

Ramiro Serrano Hernandez, 26, was charged in 3rd District Court with automobile homicide, a second-degree felony, as well as leaving the scene of an accident involving a death, which is a third-degree felony. He could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted on the former, and up to five years for the latter.

Hernandez was also charged with violation of operator duties for an accident involving property damage and having no or an expired driver's license, which are misdemeanors.

Investigators suspect that on Aug. 25, Hernandez lost control of a Jeep Grand Cherokee, hit a car and then 22-year-old Ashlee Zimmer while she was having a smoke on the sidewalk near 844 N. 100 West. Her body was dragged beneath the SUV as it crashed through a fence and hit a building.

Zimmer was taken to the hospital, where she later died.

Hernandez fled on foot but was found later hiding behind a nearby dumpster, according to the charges.

Once in custody, Hernandez admitted to drinking five to six beers earlier at a wedding, then another five to six beers at home before driving the SUV, according to the charges. He submitted to an intoxilyzer test that showed a breath alcohol content of 0.169 — more than twice the legal limit of 0.08, the charges add.

He also consented to a blood draw. Investigators are still waiting on the results of that test.

Hernandez also told investigators that he was on his way to a friend's house when bright, oncoming headlights caused him to lose control of the vehicle, according to a probable cause statement. He also told police that after the crash he fled out of fear of a man who was yelling at him and also to find help; he then saw the police officers and hid, also out of fear, the affidavit adds.

When police asked him about Zimmer, Hernandez told the officers that he not know he had hit and killed someone, according to the affidavit.

"[When a sergeant asked Hernandez] now that he knows he had hit and killed a person with the vehicle he was driving, how did that make him feel?" the affidavit says. "[Hernandez] advised he felt sad."

A judge set a $500,000 cash-only bail for Hernandez during a Monday morning court appearance. He has a prior DUI conviction from 2008.

mmcfall@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mikeypanda