The man accused of driving intoxicated on the wrong side of the road told Channel 6 News Friday the crash that killed a Council Bluffs teenager and injured three others was not his fault.
Police say 31-year-old Hilberto Velasquez-Ramirez of Nashville, Tennessee was driving a van on the wrong side of Veterans Memorial Highway west of the Metro Drive intersection just before 1:30 a.m. when he collided with a car.
All four people in the vehicle were taken to the hospital where 17-year-old Chrishaun Moten was pronounced dead. The driver of the car, 18-year-old Brenden Kniesly, and passenger 17-year-old Philip Moffatt were injured and remain hospitalized. Kniesly is in stable condition and Moffatt is in serious but stable condition. Sixteen-year-old Jessilyn Eisman was treated for her injuries and released.
Eisman said she took the keys from the driver before he could flee the scene. "She said you killed my buddy.” Velasquez-Ramirez admitted he had six beers, but insisted the accident wasn't his fault. “Everything happened really fast,” said Velasquez-Ramirez through an interpreter. “He saw the lights, swerved the wheel, he hit his face."
Velasquez-Ramirez faces charges of motor vehicle homicide, two counts of serious injury by motor vehicle and operating while intoxicated. He doesn't have a driver's license or insurance. Velasquez-Ramirez was in the area doing roofing work. Bond was set at 10 percent of $65,000.
Condolences have been pouring in to the Moten family. His grandmother Janice Cotton, who raised him, was called to identify the body at 3:30 a.m. “Too sudden. I really haven't gotten a grip on what has happened.”
She said Chrishaun was well loved and a talented musician. Now his family, including a younger brother and sister, are left behind trying to understand. “He's really going to be missed. It's very difficult."
Classmates are planning a vigil for him Saturday night at Lewis Central High School.