Illegal Immigrant Charged With Manslaughter in Fatal Hit-and-Run
Posted March 6, 2007 10:43 a.m. EST
Updated March 7, 2007 10:42 a.m. EST
Smithfield, N.C. — The driver of a car that slammed into a tractor-trailer Sunday night, killing two people, was charged Tuesday morning with involuntary manslaughter, authorities said.
Luciano Tellez, 31, of Angier, who is also known as Tellez Diaz, was charged Monday night with two counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle, felony hit-and-run, running a stop sign and driving with a suspended license.
Federal authorities have determined that Diaz was in the U.S. illegally and have placed a detainer on him in case he makes his $2 million bond and is released from the Johnston County Detention Center. Authorities said they would let the legal system run its course before determining whether to deport him.
The state Highway Patrol is still trying to sort out the details involving the fatal wreck, which occurred at the intersection of N.C. Highway 210 and Plainview Church Road near Angier.
Authorities said Tellez ran a stop sign at the intersection and rammed into a tractor-trailer. The rig veered off the road, overturned and caught fire, killing the driver and a passenger, authorities said.
Tellez fled the scene on foot. Two passengers in the car remained at the scene and told authorities what happened.
Authorities identified the two victims of the wreck as Jerry "Duane" Braswell, 35, of 3833 Manor Drive in Clayton, and his 9-year-old son, Jerry Braswell Jr.
The boy was a third-grader at Cleveland Elementary School, and school officials had counselors on campus Tuesday to talk with other students.
"He always had a smile on his face and a funny story to tell," Principal Linda Edmundson said. "Jerry will truly be missed."
A family friend said Braswell and his son were heading home Sunday evening when the wreck occurred. The father often took his son and his 12-year-old daughter along when he dropped off equipment and picked up his paycheck on Sundays, the friend said.
Braswell's daughter was home sick Sunday night, the friend said.
Authorities also found that Tellez was wanted for violating the terms of his probation. He was convicted of drunken driving in 2005 and has a suspended license, authorities said. Authorities said they believe alcohol played a role in Sunday's wreck.
Raleigh police weren't required to inform immigration officials of Tellez' prior arrest because he was charged only with a misdemeanor and had a valid driver's license, said Jim Sughrue, spokesman for the Raleigh Police Department.
Braswell is survived by his wife and a 12-year-old daughter. A visitation will be held from noon until 2 p.m. Thursday at Raleigh First Church of the Nazarene on U.S. Highway 70 in Garner, followed immediately by funeral services.