Authorities say a teenager who was at the wheel of a car that was involved in a crash in Omaha last month that killed an Iowa woman has missed a court hearing and may have fled the country.
Prosecutors say 19-year-old Eswin Mejia was drunk and street racing on January 31st when he rear-ended an SUV, killing the driver, 21-year-old Sarah Root of Council Bluffs. Omaha Deputy Police Chief Dave Baker says Mejia posted 10 percent of a $50,000 bond last week, then vanished.
“As a local law enforcement agency, we’re not emplowered to enforce federal immigration laws however, we do work with the immigration authorities on a federal level,” Deputy Chief Baker says. “In this case, the individual, Mr. Mejia, was in our country illegally. He was from Honduras.” Baker says Mejia’s background was checked prior to his bond hearing.
“We do attempt to make sure the judge is aware the individual is in the country illegally, not on the basis of whether the individual is guilty or not guilty,” Baker says. “It does not effect what charges they are charged with on a local or a state basis. It has to do with whether or not there is a flight risk.” Baker says Mejia was bonded out of jail before immigration authorities could issue a detainer to hold him without bond.
“Our accident investigator did request a detainer, however, one was not issued or granted prior to him bonding out,” Baker says. “His brother did bond him out before the detainer was issued. My understanding was that he was bonded out fairly quickly.” He says Mejia has been in the U.S. for 4 or 5 years and attended a local school.
Douglas County (Nebraska) prosecutors say Mejia’s blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit and he was driving on a suspended license when he hit Root’s vehicle. Mejia also had several warrants issued for his arrest for previous traffic violations and failure to appear in court.
The victim’s family had expressed concern he would flee the state, if not the country, before going to trial.