Alleged drunk driver accused of killing dispatcher negotiating plea

MGN Online

A 20-year-old man charged with hitting and killing a 29-year-old Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher while drinking and driving last year is undergoing plea negotiations with the state.

Orlando Zuniga Rodriguez appeared in the 275th state District Court Wednesday morning with his attorney, Rick Flores, who made the announcement, court records indicate.

Rodriguez is accused of causing a car crash that killed Sandra Coronado, who was on her way to work at the sheriff’s office, in the 4900 block of Expressway 281 on Dec. 9, 2018, at approximately 6:46 a.m.

He is charged with intoxication manslaughter, accident involving injury, accident involving death, intoxication assault and fraudulent use or possession of identifying information.

Rodriguez remains in jail on bonds totaling $700,000.

Court records indicate an assistant district attorney said authorities need to speak with Coronado’s family.

A probable cause affidavit says Rodriguez was driving a Chevrolet Avalanche truck when he broadsided Coronado’s Buick Encore SUV, pushing it “against the concrete barrier that divides the southbound and northbound lanes of traffic.”

Authorities accuse Rodriguez of fleeing the scene of the crash on foot.

Police arrested him in the 300 block of East Owassa Road where they found him smelling of alcohol and marijuana while displaying bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, according to the affidavit.

He also had a fraudulent permanent resident card in his possession, according to police.

Rodriguez’s 20-year-old passenger suffered a collapsed lung in the crash.

Court records indicate that Rodriguez will appear in court again on Sept. 30 where the parties will announce whether they reached a plea deal or whether a jury trial will need to be scheduled.

mreagan@themonitor.com