Man charged with vehicular homicide was 'highly intoxicated' at time of fatal crash
A Dickinson man charged with criminal vehicular homicide after an accident on South State Avenue Wednesday resulted in the death of New England coach Shawn Flaherty was "highly intoxicated" at the time according to reports filed by law enforcement.
Sergio Ruiz Ledezma, 58, was "under the influence" when he crossed the road into oncoming traffic, Stark County State's Attorney Tom Henning said.
"My understanding was simply that he was strongly under the influence, possibly as high as .30," Henning said. "We've heard some rumors, and none of that's been substantiated. I haven't seen a test yet."
A blood test isn't needed for the state's attorney office to file charges.
"I just need to show that he appeared to be, and he refused testing after being properly advised," Henning said.
Ledezma has a previous charge of driving under the influence of alcohol, a Class B misdemeanor, stemming from an incident in March 2018.
In that incident, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, receiving 30 days suspended and placed on unsupervised probation. He was ordered to pay $750 in fees.
The homicide case is being conducted by the North Dakota Highway Patrol, which arrived on-scene first.
The procedure is normal, Capt. David Wilkie, Dickinson Police Department, said.
"It's a historic protocol when we have a traffic fatality, in most situations Highway Patrol will take over the investigation, because of the experts in traffic accident fatalities," he said.
A criminal complaint has not yet been filed.
N.D. Highway Patrol Sgt. Chris Messer said the investigation is ongoing and could take some time to complete.
"We continue to investigate it as much as possible. Our reconstructionist will look into it, as well," he said. "Hopefully we can get everything wrapped up as soon as possible. Especially with fatal investigations like this, it takes time. A lot of information has to be looked at to make sure everything is figured out as much as possible."
Ledezma had an initial appearance in Stark County District Court Friday before Judge Dann Greenwood where a cash bond of $200,000 was set and a preliminary hearing scheduled for Jan. 6, 2020, at 2:30 p.m.