Unlicensed driver faces eight charges in fatal crash in Prince George’s County

March 26, 2013

A driver who police say was unlicensed and under the influence of alcohol has been arrested in connection with a Monday crash in Prince George’s County that left two of his passengers dead.

Ramon Ernesto Ascencio-Anaya, 35, is facing eight charges in connection with the crash, including vehicular manslaughter by criminal negligence and vehicular manslaughter while impaired by alcohol, court records show. He was arrested Monday and ordered held on $200,000 bail, according to police and court records.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the agency placed an immigration detainer on Ascencio-Anaya, a native of El Salvador who she said is in the United States illegally.

Prince George’s County police said in charging documents that Ascencio-Anaya was driving a red Honda Accord east in the 10800 block of Lanham Severn Road in the Glenn Dale area when he crossed the double yellow line and ended up in front of an Audi A6 headed west. The Audi and the Honda collided. A police spokesman previously said that Ascencio-Anaya appeared to be trying to turn left into a business or driveway.

Four people were injured: Ascencio-Anaya, two passengers in his Honda and the Audi’s driver, police said. The passengers, Leo Castro, 46, and Jose Rodrigeuez, 30, were later pronounced dead. Ascencio-Anaya and the other driver did not appear to have life-threatening injuries, police said.

The crash occurred just before 8 a.m. Monday, as falling snow reduced visibility and made the ground wet. Fire officials initially said weather conditions were possibly a factor in the collision, though police said they were still looking into the cause.

According to the charging documents, an officer “smelled a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage” on Ascencio-Anaya at the hospital, and a blood test showed that he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.17. The legal limit in Maryland is 0.08.

The documents say Ascencio-Anaya is homeless, has “no ties to the area” and has no driver’s license in Maryland or elsewhere.

The Maryland General Assembly is considering a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses. Applicants would have to show a birth certificate or other identification, along with two years of Maryland tax filings.

Proponents say the measure would keep state roads safer, but opponents question the assumption about safety and say such a law would condone illegal behavior.

Eddy Palanzo contributed to this report.

Matt Zapotosky covers the federal district courthouse in Alexandria, where he tries to break news from a windowless office in which he is not allowed to bring his cell phone.
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