Driver in fatal Va. crash had previous DUI violations
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
An alleged drunk driver involved in a crash Sunday morning that killed a Catholic nun in Prince William County and left two other nuns gravely injured has a record of numerous motor vehicle violations in recent years, including two drunken-driving cases for which he served 20 days in jail, according to authorities and court records.
The suspect, Carlos A. Martinelly Montano, 23, an illegal immigrant from Bolivia, was also detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement after a drunken-driving arrest in 2008. Montano was released on his own recognizance pending a deportation hearing, which has yet to occur because of a backlog, said ICE spokeswoman Cori Bassett.
Montano "has reported as required on a monthly basis to ICE" while awaiting the hearing, Bassett said. Gang members and other violent criminals are often jailed to await deportation hearings, but two drunken-driving arrests "aren't enough to warrant detention," said an immigration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the case against Montano is pending.
Prince William Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert voiced anger about the case in an interview Monday.
"He's thumbed his nose at the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia for years," Ebert said of Montano. "He continued to drive, even though his privilege had been revoked and he didn't have the right to drive. And he continued to drive drunk, which led to this horrible, horrible situation."
Montano was intoxicated when the 1997 Subaru Outback he was driving in the Bristow area struck a guardrail on Bristow Road near Wright Lane shortly before 8:30 a.m. Sunday, police said. The Outback, traveling north, spun out of control and careered into the southbound lanes, colliding head-on with the nuns' 2003 Toyota Corolla.
Sister Denise Mosier, 66, a former missionary in Africa who was riding in the back seat, was killed. The driver, Sister Connie Ruth Lupton, 75, and the front-seat passenger, Sister Charlotte Lange, 70, were in critical condition Monday at Inova Fairfax Hospital, said Sister Glenna Smith, a spokeswoman for the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia, the nuns' order.
Police did not say whether Lange and Lupton were wearing seat belts, but Mosier apparently was not wearing one.
Mosier, Lupton and Lange, residents of the Saint Benedict convent in Richmond, were on their way to a five-day religious retreat at the Benedictine Sisters monastery in Prince William. As for the injured nuns' prognosis, Smith said: "We don't know yet. They're in the trauma unit on ventilators, the two of them. They're being kept sedated."
The retreat began as scheduled Monday morning, Smith said, but would be "abbreviated."
Police would not disclose Montano's alleged level of intoxication or discuss other evidence.
Mosier, a native Pennsylvanian who entered the convent nearly a half-century ago at age 18, was "a good and faithful servant of the Lord," Bishop Paul S. Loverde, leader of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, said in a statement. "This tragedy, which comes allegedly as a result of a young man's drunk driving, was avoidable.