Police believe illegal immigrant Edwin Elvir-Palma was driving drunk when he hit a man walking along the road in Omaha and fled the scene, leaving the man to die.
Friends on Facebook describe Margarito Nava-Luna, 34, as a hardworking family man and good husband when he was hit by a vehicle around 2:30 a.m. Saturday as he walked down Manderson Plaza in Omaha, Nebraska Radio Network reports.
Police believe Elvir-Palma was with Nava-Luna at Bogie’s Bar and Grill on Maple Road Friday night. Nava-Luna was struck by a vehicle nearby while walking on the shoulder of a westbound lane without a sidewalk. The vehicle was traveling eastbound and crossed the center line to strike Nava-Luna, who was pronounced dead at the scene, the Omaha World-Herald reports.
A motorist also flagged down a deputy to report the gray SUV, and Elvir-Palma was arrested during a traffic stop a short distance away in a gray GMC Acadia, police said.
“Prior to (the deputy) spotting the vehicle, he was flagged down by another motorist who said that a man had been following them and harassing her and her passenger,” Chief Deputy Tom Wheeler told KETV. “Making every turn that she was making, and she was concerned about what was going on.”
The driver initially identified himself as Orling Carrasco-Zelaya, 26, but police later realized his real identity, and why he was allegedly attempting to hide it. Officers administered a breath test at the scene that registered .239, roughly three times the legal limit to drive, the World-Herald reports.
“(The) driver was very intoxicated, had difficulty speaking,” Wheeler said.
The arrest occurred about 15 minutes after Nava-Luna was fatally struck.
Police told the media the vehicle Elvir-Palma was driving showed signs it hit Nava-Luna, and officers later discovered the driver’s real identity through an FBI fingerprint database.
“He had been deported on a previous occasion back to Honduras,” Wheeler said. “And we matched his name up with the fingerprint cards that were on file with the FBI. Not sure which channels or routes he chose, but certainly he was back in the country.”
The World-Herald reports Elver-Palma has been a fugitive from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement since 2012 with a long history of alcohol-related crimes.
He was charged Saturday with suspicion of reckless driving, fourth-offense felony DUI, not having a driver’s license and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident that results in serious injury or death, according to the news site.
ICE now has a hold placed on Elver-Palma, who currently resides in a Douglas County jail.
The case is the second fatal collision in Nebraska this year involving an alleged illegal immigrant drunken driver.
According to the World-Herald:
Earlier this year, Eswin Mejia, also a Honduran citizen in the U.S. illegally, was charged with motor vehicle homicide and drunken driving after authorities say the pickup truck he was driving collided with an SUV driven by 21-year-old Sarah Root on Jan. 31, fatally injuring her.
In February, Mejia, 19, posted 10 percent of his $50,000 bail set by Douglas County Judge Jeff Marcuzzo. Mejia, however, did not appear for the required twice-daily Breathalyzer tests and has disappeared. An arrest warrant was issued Feb. 9 Mejia is still being sought.
U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., has demanded answers from ICE officials as to why they didn’t place a detainer on Mejia.