An illegal immigrant who snuck into the United States from Mexico seven times was driving drunk and speeding down a Nebraska highway when he crashed his van last week, killing a passenger sitting in the back of the vehicle, prosecutors said.
Douglas County prosecutors said in court Tuesday Nemias Garcia-Velasco, 32, was deported in 2009 and 2011 and “voluntarily returned” to Mexico five times in 2005, Omaha World Herald reported. He was convicted of making a false claim to U.S. citizenship in 2005.
Nemias-Garcia’s bail was set at $2 million. Prosecutor Ryan Lindberg in court on Tuesday requested a high bail for Garcia-Velasco because he feared the illegal immigrant might flee the country — again.
“If this is someone who bonds out, I don’t think we’ll see Mr. Garcia-Velasco again,” Lindberg said.
Garcia-Velasco was speeding down an interstate in Omaha about 1 p.m. last Wednesday when he lost control of his 2001 Dodge Ram van, slamming into a guard rail before the vehicle rolled over and caught fire, officials said.
Silvano Torres, 58, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt while riding in the back of the van, died in the crash. Torres’ girlfriend told the newspaper her boyfriend had documents to be in the U.S. and he was a father to two girls and a boy.
Another passenger, Jesus I. Gonzalez, 16, was hospitalized and released later that day.
Garcia-Velasco later told police he drank 12 beers the night before and into the morning of the crash. His blood-alcohol level was at .243, three times the limit of .08, according to Omaha World Herald.
Garcia-Velasco was treated for severe burns, released and booked into jail. He was charged with motor vehicle homicide, driving under the influence and operating without a driver’s license, KETV reported. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.