Police: Man who caused fatal accident fled because he was illegal immigrant

Published 4:52 pm Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The man police say is responsible for a traffic accident that killed a Saucier couple allegedly fled the scene because he is an illegal immigrant who feared being deported.

Police say Raymundo Rojas Garcia caused Sunday’s accident that killed Wayne and Michelle Hughes, who were riding a motorcycle. He fled the scene because he was an illegal immigrant facing almost certain deportation once he was captured, authorities said.

Garcia was attempting to make a left turn in front of northbound traffic on U.S. 49 when he pulled in front of Wayne Hughes’ northbound Suzuki motorcycle, a witness said. Hughes tried to get out of the way but it was too late.

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The couple’s son, who had joined his parents for dinner at a restaurant that night, was in a vehicle behind them and saw the deadly accident.

After the collision, a witness said, Garcia took off running with his wife and 1-year-old son, only to be captured a block and a half away.

He was charged with felony leaving the scene of an accident, driving without a license, driving without insurance, driving with an expired tag and failure to yield. His total bond was set at $51,351.

It is not Garcia’s first run in with the law. Garcia, 27, was charged June 17 by Gulfport police with misdemeanor drunk driving and other traffic violations. He was detained overnight and later fined.

Gulfport Deputy Chief Alfred Sexton said Monday that a hold has been placed on Garcia pending confirmation of his immigration status.

However, Sexton said Garcia admitted to police that he was an illegal immigrant. Sexton said Garcia likely would face criminal charges here before deportation.

Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove said autopsy results Monday showed that Wayne Hughes died of injuries to the head, chest and extremities; Michelle Hughes was thrown from the bike and died of head and neck injuries.