Local News

ICE: Man charged in death of 5-year-old is in US illegally, had prior DWI conviction

Posted December 28, 2016
Updated December 29, 2016

— The man charged in the death of a 5-year-old Hillsborough boy, who was hit by a runaway construction truck, was unable to provide personal identification at the scene and told officials he is a Mexican citizen.

Alejandro Suarez, 28, of Spider Lily Lane in Angier, is charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle in the death of Everett Copeland. Suarez made his first court appearance on Wednesday.

According to authorities, Suarez, a construction worker, left a dump truck unattended at the top of a hill on Dogwood Bloom Lane in the Forest Ridge subdivision. He told first responders that he had set the brake on the truck only to see it rolling free, but according to an arrest warrant, the truck was left unattended and he failed to effectively secure the parking brake.

The truck rolled down the hill for about 100 yards, snapping overhead power lines before running into a home and hitting the boy, who was playing with three other children in a driveway.

Officials said the truck was being used for construction on a new home.

After court on Wednesday, Suarez's attorney described him as an "awesome kid," and said his client is heartbroken.

"I mean, imagine being even remotely connected to a tragedy like this," said Bill Young. "How would you feel? And that's how he feels."

Young said his client is devastated by the tragedy.

"No matter what anyone else says about some label that might be attached to him, this is truly, truly a good person that is literally devastated at even remotely, or directly, or in any way, being connected to a tragedy like this," Young said.

Chris Peltz, a pastor at Newhope Church Hillsborough Campus, is now trying to help the Copeland family, neighbors and first responders.

"There are few days in my role as a pastor that I ever want to quit and these are some of them. The raw emotion. My job as a pastor is to love people. That's what I want to do and sometimes love hurts," Peltz said.

Peltz said Everett is now in heaven.

"We believe he is there. That he is happy. He is alive. That he is singing like he's never sung before and that we get to celebrate him," Peltz said.

Everett's funeral is tentatively scheduled for Friday.

Suarez was being held at the Orange County Jail under a $10,000 secured bond.

According to the Orange County District Attorney, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are looking into Suarez's immigration status. According to a statement from ICE officials, Suarez was in the United States illegally and is an enforcement priority due to a previous DWI conviction in 2009. He was also charged in 2013 for driving while license revoked in Wake County.


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  • Clarence Drumgoole Dec 29, 4:00 p.m.
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    Those who cherish their driving privilege, would not be driving defective equipment in the first place. That's why these companies hire those who take the chance. Truck owner should share equal blame

  • Linda Tally Dec 29, 3:49 p.m.
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    There is one item nobody (that I can see) has mentioned in this discussion. These large trucks are seldom owned by the companies/employees that use them. They are leased or rented. I'd be interested in knowing who actually owned this one, and whether it was adequately maintained. Whether the driver at the time was in the country legally becomes a moot point in the chain of events if the truck break would not hold properly.

    There's LOTS of possible and related blame to spread around in this story.

  • Samara Lupold Dec 29, 12:04 p.m.
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    View quoted thread

    The difference is you (hopefully) were not operating a vehicle without a license. You (hopefully) were not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You (hopefully) had insurance that covered the damage done to both vehicles. Lastly, you had the legal right to live and work in this country. The man, whom I'm sure "feels bad" (according to his attorney) for killing this boy had none of those things. Had he been made to go back to his country of origin and come here legally, HE would not have killed the boy. #notamistake

  • Benjamin Kite Dec 29, 11:54 a.m.
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    A wall between the USA and Mexico cannot do the job of teaching and testing employees on OSHA standards. An employer that hires illegally will also skip the expense of safety training too.

  • Alison Bryan Dec 29, 11:30 a.m.
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    View quoted thread

    No, that's my point. This family lost a poor, innocent child and a commenter is concerned about someone incorrectly writing 'construction' as 'constitution'.

  • Jenny Miller Dec 29, 11:17 a.m.
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    SHEILA--PLEASE tell the your heartless opinion to the parents that lost a beautiful innocent child.

  • Benjamin Kite Dec 29, 10:38 a.m.
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    Call it what you will, but it ain't even in the same ballpark as murder. Agree with others that the name of the construction company should be in future reports on this subject. It's too important to omit. There can be no justice that does not include a lawsuit against his employer.

  • Jenny Miller Dec 29, 10:36 a.m.
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    So asked WRAL a simple question: What is the name of the construction company? Why is it missing in the article? Maybe we can boycott the company...

  • Jamie Partin Dec 29, 10:31 a.m.
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    First of all stop them from entering illegal and then if they break the law deport them before they can commit another crime. I sincerely hope our president elect sticks to his word and will take care of this problem.

  • Jamie Partin Dec 29, 10:26 a.m.
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    I pray the family of the boy finds some kind if peace and only God can get the family through this difficult time. I live near the defendant and cannot tell you how many times the sheriff has been called by people in my neighborhood because of the party's, loud music, drinking etc. There have been many license checks where this man and his companions live. (Multiple men in the house) The defendant has already had one DWI. My point is it starts with the law. If the law would do thier job and stop being so soft on illegals, alot can and could be prevented. Deport them when they