A Davidson County grand jury will hear the case of a suspected illegal immigrant who is charged in a fatal Christmas morning car crash in south Nashville.
Details revealed during a preliminary hearing Wednesday in General Sessions Court paint a familiar picture of a suspected drunken driver weaving in and out of traffic and crashing into an innocent motorist.
Police say Ramon E. Neri, 22, was intoxicated when he lost control of his Chrysler LHS and crashed into oncoming traffic near the intersection of Haywood Lane and Locustwood Lane at 8:30 a.m. Christmas morning.
“Mr. Neri was driving toward I-40 on Haywood Lane and he left the roadway, struck the guardrail, reentered the roadway, went into oncoming traffic and the collision occurred,” Metro Officer Harold Burke testified.
As Neri’s vehicle crossed the oncoming traffic, he entered the path of a Mitsubishi Galant driven by Moni Rai, 22. Rai’s vehicle struck the passenger side of Neri’s vehicle, police said.
Although there were no witnesses to the crash, Rai had three passengers, one of whom called 911.
Neri and Rai's backseat passenger, Tika Koirala, 46, were transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Rai and her other two passengers were taken to Southern Hills Medical Center.
Burke testified that a Vanderbilt nurse told police Neri “had been drinking and that he smelled of alcoholic beverage.”
Officers issued a verbal request to hospital staff to administer a blood alcohol test, which came back with a blood alcohol concentration of .16, above the Tennessee legal limit of .08.
During questioning by Neri's public defender James McNamara, Burke stated there was no physical evidence collected from Neri's car that indicated he had been drinking.
But Burke testified that Neri's inability to keep his vehicle in his lane caused the collision that landed five people in the hospital. Neri was charged with vehicular homicide when Koirala died Dec. 29.
The officer also addressed the issue with properly identifying Neri, who is suspected of entering the country illegally.
Officers were first provided information that Neri’s last name was Olea, Burke testified. When no driver’s license information was found by that name, Neri was charged with driving without a license and released into the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.