Police: Utah auto homicide suspect was legally drunk
Police say that Ramiro Hernandez-Serrano's alcohol level tested twice the legal limit when he allegedly hit and killed an Orem newlywed with an SUV last weekend.
Investigators are still awaiting lab results on a blood draw, but a jail booking document states that the Pleasant Grove man scored a 0.169 blood alcohol concentration on an Intoxilyzer test more than twice the legal limit of 0.08. That breath test was administered about two hours after police say he struck and killed 22-year-old Ashlee Zimmer while she was having a smoke on the sidewalk early Sunday.
Hernandez-Serrano, 26, was driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee when he allegedly hit Zimmer near 844 N. 100 West. Hernandez-Serrano lost control of the SUV, hitting Zimmer's car and then Zimmer,police said. Her body was dragged beneath the SUV as it crashed through a fence and hit a building.
"I believe these facts show the criminally negligent manner in which [Hernandez-Serrano] was operating his vehicle as he wasn't even able to keep his vehicle on the roadway and drove into a parked car, into a person, over a sidewalk and was stopped when his vehicle hit into a building," an officer wrote in a affidavit filed in 4th District Court.
Tire track evidence shows the SUV backed up once and then forward, hitting into the business a second time. Zimmer's husband of four months heard the crash and found his wife pinned under the car. He called police and
banged on the window of the driver's door yelling for the driver to turn off the engine and get out. Once Hernandez-Serrano did, the husband turned his attention to his wife and did not see Hernandez run away, according to the affidavit.
Officers found him with the help of police dogs about 30 minutes later hiding behind a dumpster at 845 N. State St.Zimmer, meanwhile, was rushed to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Once in custody, Hernandez-Serrano allegedly told officers his account of what happened, with the help of a sergeant who speaks Spanish.
Hernandez-Serrano waived his Miranda rights and admitted that he drank beer that night and that he drove the SUV, according to the probable cause statement. He added that he was on his way to a friend's house, borrowing his cousin's SUV, when bright, oncoming headlights caused him to lose control of the vehicle, the affidavit says.
He also told police that after the crash he fled out of fear of the 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-Serrano told the officers that he not know he had hit and killed someone.
"[When a sergeant asked Hernandez-Serrano] 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-Serrano] advised he felt sad."
A judge set a $500,000 cash-only bail for Hernandez-Serrano during a Monday morning court appearance.
Deputy Utah County Attorney Craig Johnson said his office asked for the high bail because Hernandez-Serrano is classified as an "aggravated re-entry illegal immigrant" and is a flight risk. Johnson said Hernandez-Serrano was deported in 2008, and is likely in the country illegally.
Hernandez-Serrano will make his next court appearance Sept. 3. He is being held in the Utah County Jail on suspicion of automobile homicide, though no charges have been filed as of Tuesday morning. Johnson said his office has until Hernandez-Serrano's next court appearance to file charges.
Earlier Sunday, before the fatal accident, Lindon police cited Hernandez-Serrano for intoxication and disorderly conduct while he was at a party, said Orem police Lt. Craig Martinez. A friend gave Hernandez-Serrano a ride home, according to Martinez, but Hernandez-Serrano later decided to drive.
His criminal history in Utah is short, but related: Hernandez-Serrano pleaded guilty to DUI in 2008, according to a search of court records. He was later deported. In 2010, he pleaded guilty to not having a valid a drivers license.
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