A toddler riding in an ambulance that was struck by an accused drunken driver on U.S. 52 early Sunday has died, authorities said Monday evening.
Winston-Salem police were notified about the 3-year-old boy’s death about 6:05 p.m. Monday. Investigators will release more information about the case after receiving the results of an autopsy, police said.
Police did not release the toddler’s name.
Lt. Rick Newnum said the boy had been in stable condition before the crash but emerged from the wreck with life-threatening injuries. Newnum didn’t have further information about why the boy was being taken to a hospital before the crash.
The child’s grandfather, Gary Oakes of Wise, Va., spoke in a brief interview before his grandson’s death. “It’s devastating,” Oakes said.
Lyndsay Ann Oakes, 27, also of Wise, Va., the child’s mother who was injured in the crash, declined to comment before the death. She asked for privacy for herself and her family on her Facebook page.
The boy was injured at 1:15 a.m. Sunday when a 2003 Honda Accord crashed into the ambulance that was taking him to Wake Forest Baptist Center, according to court documents and Winston-Salem police.
The Lifecare Ambulance from Wise, Va., overturned on southbound U.S. 52 near the Liberty Street exit.
Police said that both the Honda Accord and the ambulance were traveling south when the Accord collided with the left side of the ambulance, causing both drivers to lose control. The Accord, driven by Jose Martin Duran Romero, 27, of Neston Drive, ran off the road, police said.
Newnum said Romero and the passenger in the Accord, Andres Figueroa Leon, 33, of the 700 block of Anson Street, ran away after the crash. One of the men was immediately detained by one of the witnesses of the crash, Newnum said. Police officers established a perimeter and soon captured the other man.
Romero was charged Sunday with driving while impaired, failure to reduce speed and having no operator’s license, police said. According to court documents, Romero took a breathalyzer test, which indicated a blood alcohol level of 0.19 percent. The legal limit in North Carolina is 0.08 percent.
Initially, Romero was placed under a $50,000 bond, but the bond was revoked and he was being held in the Forsyth County Jail Monday night with no bond allowed, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office said.
Romero is being held with an immigration detainer placed on him, authorities said.
Officials with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Department of Homeland Security use immigration detainers when there are potentially deportable individuals being held jails and prisons nationwide.
Leon was charged with failure to render aid/give information, police said. He has been released from the jail after posting a $1,000 bond, the sheriff’s office said.
Romero and Leon are scheduled to appear in Forsyth District Court on April 17.
The driver of the ambulance, Joshua Dewayne Church, 34, of Wise, Lyndsay Oakes, and paramedic Rickey Clayton Ratliff, 55, of Appalachia, Va., were taken to the hospital and treated for minor injuries.
Anyone with information regarding this incident can call Winston-Salem police at 336-773-7700 or Crime Stoppers at 336-727-2800.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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