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- 06-29-2012, 12:23 AM #1
ARK - Police: Drunk driver kills unborn child
Submitted by KAIT8 Web Staff
Wednesday, June 27th, 2012, 10:44am
Ernesto Berdeja (Source: Independence Co. Sheriff)
BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) A 35-year-old illegal immigrant is accused of driving drunk and killing an unborn child after a weekend crash.
The Independence County Sheriff's Department filed for and received an affidavit warrant Tuesday through Don McSpadden, the 16th judicial prosecuting attorney, and Chaney Taylor, the Batesville district judge, for the arrest of Ernesto Berdeja. He is charged with negligent homicide and driving while intoxicated.
The charges came after an investigation involving the death of an infant child in a car accident Saturday, according to Lt. Michael Mundy.
"Any time you have a death, especially with a small child, sure, it's something that sticks with you," Mundy said. "It doesn't mean you handle it any differently. It's something that sticks."
Mundy says he has worked a lot of accidents during his career, but none ever involved an unborn child as a victim. That all changed Saturday evening.
Around 9:20 p.m., he says Independence County Sheriff's deputies responded to a motor vehicle accident near the intersection of 22nd and Harrison Streets in Batesville. A Dodge truck had hit a Hyundai Elantra.
"The Elantra had significant damage to the back rear door area as well as the side," Mundy said, "and then the front end of the Dodge had significant damage."
Mundy says Berdeja had pulled in front of the truck with his Hyundai, causing the collision. Berdeja's two female passengers were taken to the White River Medical Center. One of the women was about 31 weeks pregnant and had to undergo an emergency Caesarean section.
"When she was taken to the hospital at that point in time, medical personnel realized that they needed to go ahead and do an emergency C-section," Mundy said. "The emergency C-section was performed, and the child was stillborn."
Doctors determined the child likely died from blunt force trauma. The Arkansas Medical Examiner's Office currently has the baby's body, while its 20-year-old mother remains in the hospital.
The other female passenger and the truck's driver were treated for minor injuries and released soon after the accident.
Their names remain unknown at this time, as the Independence County Sheriff's Department has not yet released the police report.
While deputies investigated the scene Saturday, Mundy says Berdeja appeared drunk. Officers took him to the Independence County Jail, where a breathalyzer revealed his blood alcohol content was above the legal limit.
Berdeja was charged with DWI, and then investigators had to determine if the unborn baby was a viable life. The prosecutor and medical personnel agreed that it was indeed a viable life because it had almost reached full-term. That brought a second charge for Berdeja of negligent homicide, which is a Class B felony that could carry a sentence of five to 20 years.
Berdeja remains in police custody, and Judge Taylor set his bond at $200,000.
Prosecuting attorney McSpadden says Berdeja will likely be arraigned on July 10.
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Police: Drunk driver kills unborn child | News | Ozark Gateway NewsWe have immigration laws that just need to be enforced.