Utah - Man arrested in DUI death held on $500,000 bail

Article author: 
Paige Fieldsted
Article publisher: 
Daily Herald
Article date: 
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Article category: 
National Issues
Article Body: 

PROVO -- Ramiro Serrano-Hernandez was driving with an expired Utah driving privilege card early Sunday morning when he veered off the road and hit 22-year-old Ashlee Zimmer, according to police reports.

Zimmer was sitting on the curb next to a parked car at 844 N. 100 West at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday when Hernandez, who was driving north on 100 West, swerved across traffic, hit the parked car and then Zimmer. Zimmer later died from her injuries.

Hernandez had already been cited for intoxication and disorderly conduct Saturday night before he got behind the wheel of a friend's Jeep Grand Cherokee. Lt. Craig Martinez with the Orem Department of Public Safety said Hernandez was cited for the misdemeanors by the Lindon police, but wasn't arrested or taken into custody because he wasn't driving at the time. Hernandez was booked into the Utah County Jail on charges of automobile homicide, a second-degree felony; leaving the scene of the accident and driving with an expired license -- both misdemeanors.

During a court hearing Monday morning, Hernandez appeared before 4th District Judge Steven Hansen. Speaking through an interpreter, Hernandez said he has lived in the area for about four years and he works in construction to support himself.

Prosecutor Craig Johnson said Hernandez's case sticks out on the bail hearing calendar simply because of the death of Zimmer. He said Hernandez had already been deported once, in 2008. Johnson asked for $500,000 cash only bail, which Hansen granted.

Martinez said Hernandez fled the scene of the accident but was found a few blocks away hiding behind a garbage receptacle. According to police reports, a blood alcohol test administered more than two hours after the accident showed Hernandez had a blood alcohol level of .169, more than twice the legal limit. Police reports say another Breathalyzer test showed a .192 blood alcohol level, but that Hernandez was having difficulty providing a sufficient breath sample. A blood draw was also done on Hernandez but the results of that test are still being processed.

According to court documents, Hernandez told police he was going to a friend's house near 1200 N. 100 West and that when he turned onto 100 West, an oncoming car had its bright lights on, which Hernandez told officers caused him to lose control of his vehicle. Police reports indicate that Hernandez was arrested for DUI in August 2008 and Hernandez told officers that he was deported after that arrest. Police reports state that the arresting officers couldn't find a Utah criminal history with the ID Hernandez provided but could confirm he was deported in November 2008. Hernandez confirmed that he was arrested for DUI and then deported in 2008.

Hernandez has yet to be charged for the Sunday morning accident.