Federal immigration authorities have placed detainers on two Guatemalan nationals charged this week in a devastating hit-and-run crash that killed a 4-year-old Richmond boy and severely injured his parents and older brother. Neither of the men have driver’s licenses.
Both defendants are now facing deportation after Immigration Custom Enforcement officials determined they were either in the country illegally or violated the terms of their lawful immigration status.
Edilberto Hernandez-Perez, 28, is unlawfully residing in the U.S., an ICE spokeswoman said Wednesday. Hernandez-Perez told Chesterfield authorities that he has been living in the U.S. and Virginia for five months and works as a plumber, according to court papers used to determine his eligibility for bail.
However, ICE is now seeking to have him removed from the country. “ICE places immigration detainers when the agency possesses probable cause to believe an alien is deportable from the United States,” the spokeswoman said.
Gonzalez-Flores told Chesterfield authorities he’s been in the community since 2013 and has worked construction jobs over the past five years, according to court documents used to determine his eligibility for bail. He also said he lives with a woman with whom he has a child.
Despite having no driver’s license, Gonzalez-Flores has racked up at least eight local driving offenses since 2014 and was declared a fugitive by Hopewell authorities for failing to show up to court on charges of driving under suspension and failing to obey a traffic signal, court records show.
Gonzalez-Flores frequently has been convicted in absentia and owes more than $1,300 in fines and court costs for five of his convictions. He has been found guilty three times of having no driver’s license and two times for driving under suspension, which means he continued to drive after being directed by a judge or DMV not to drive, according to court records.
He also was convicted of driving with an open container of alcohol and reckless driving for speeding 85 mph in a 65 mph zone, court records show.
Police say Gonzalez-Flores was behind the wheel of a 2011 Dodge pickup that slammed into the rear of the family’s 2000 Toyota Camry, which was stopped in the right westbound lane of Belmont Road to make a turn onto Sue Jean Drive.
After the crash, witnesses saw the pickup leave the scene and turn onto Lamplighter Drive. The driver then abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot to Hernandez-Perez’s residence in the 4100 block of Lamplighter Drive, police said. The two men are friends.
Hernandez-Perez then drove Gonzalez-Flores back to his residence in the 4600 block of Peppercorn Place in another vehicle, police said.
Based on early witness statements and information provided by Gonzalez-Flores, police initially believed Hernandez-Perez was the driver and he was charged with felony hit-and-run driving. But after further investigation, police say they determined that Gonzalez-Flores was behind the wheel.
Chesterfield police Sgt. J.R. Lamb said speed was a factor in the crash but authorities are still investigating how fast Gonzalez-Flores was traveling. After the pickup was found abandoned, police said in court papers that they found currency containing a white powder and a flask containing alcohol between the seat and the center console.
Lamb said the pickup truck involved in the crash was registered to two different people, one who lived on Lamplighter Drive and the other who resided on Peppercorn Place. But neither of the defendants were the registered owners.
Elias Camacho, 4, was fatally injured in the crash. His brother, 7, suffered life-threatening injuries but survived.
The boys’ parents, whom police have not identified, suffered serious injuries, but authorities said they have been discharged from the hospital.
They are now preparing for their son’s funeral. A family friend has set up a GoFundMe account to pay for the child’s funeral expenses. A separate fundraiser has been established for the surviving family members.
Gonzalez-Flores has been charged with felony hit-and-run and having no driver’s license. His attorney will ask a judge to set bail during a Sept. 4 hearing in Chesterfield General District Court. A bail hearing for Hernandez-Perez is scheduled for Friday.
The Chesterfield Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case to determine whether additional charges are warranted, said prosecutor Ken Chitty.