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Driver had twice the legal alcohol limit in fatal Orem accident

Published: Tuesday, June 30 2015 8:15 p.m. MDT

Ashlee Zimmer, 22, was killed in a suspected DUI accident Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013, while sitting on the curb across from her Orem home. (Family Photo) Ashlee Zimmer, 22, was killed in a suspected DUI accident Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013, while sitting on the curb across from her Orem home. (Family Photo)

OREM — A man accused of running over and killing a woman who was sitting on the sidewalk Sunday may have been driving with a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit.

Ramiro Serrano Hernandez, 26, was booked into the Utah County Jail Sunday after police say he hit and killed Ashlee Zimmer, 22. During two Breathalyzer tests, Hernandez blew a 0.169 on one attempt and 0.192 on the other, according to a police affidavit filed in 4th District Court. The legal limit is 0.08.

The tests were inconclusive, however, because the breath samples weren't delivered correctly, said Orem Police Sgt. Craig Martinez.

But what that typically means is the blood-alcohol level is actually higher than the Breathalyzer reading, he said. A blood draw was also taken and sent to the Utah State Crime Lab for analysis. The results were pending on Monday.

Ashlee Zimmer, 22, was killed in a suspected DUI accident Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013, while sitting on the curb across from her Orem home. (Family Photo) Ashlee Zimmer, 22, was killed in a suspected DUI accident Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013, while sitting on the curb across from her Orem home. (Family Photo)

"It's baffling to me that somebody who has been drinking will even risk it and jump behind the wheel. So you got a guy who makes a decision one early Sunday morning. And because of that single decision, it's going to change not only his life but a lot of people's lives forever," Martinez said. "So a split second, stupid decision to get behind the wheel to do who knows what, meaning he probably wasn't going anywhere important, I don't know where he was going, but I never understand it. It just doesn't make any sense."

Earlier in the evening, Hernandez had been cited by police for being drunk and disorderly, Martinez said. He reportedly had been drinking at a wedding but was not driving at that time. After someone drove him home, however, he apparently decided to go out again, this time behind the wheel of a Jeep Cherokee, police said.

About 1:30 a.m. Sunday near 844 N. 100 West, Hernandez made "an abrupt left turn in the middle of the block," striking a parked vehicle before hitting Zimmer who was sitting on the sidewalk, according to the police affidavit.

Ramiro Serrano Hernandez, 26, from Pleasant Grove, was arrested for investigation of automobile homicide and other charges after police say he hit and killed Ashlee Zimmer, 22, who was sitting on the curb across from her Orem home early Sunday morning. (Orem Police Department) Ramiro Serrano Hernandez, 26, from Pleasant Grove, was arrested for investigation of automobile homicide and other charges after police say he hit and killed Ashlee Zimmer, 22, who was sitting on the curb across from her Orem home early Sunday morning. (Orem Police Department)

"Hernandez's vehicle continued over the sidewalk, through a 3-foot-high vinyl fence, across about a 10-foot section of (grass), over a cement curbing, through about a 4-foot section of landscaping and into the glass windows of a business. Tire track evidence at the scene shows the suspect vehicle backed up once and then forward, hitting into the business a second time," the affidavit states.

Zimmer's husband rushed out of the house after hearing the collision and pounded on Hernandez's window to get him to turn off his vehicle after he spotted his wife underneath the rear of the car, police said.

Hernandez got out of the Jeep and ran. He was found by officers a short distance away hiding behind a Dumpster, according to the affidavit. When officers took him into custody, "his eyes were bloodshot. There was also a strong odor of alcohol coming from his breath. Hernandez was unsteady on his feet," police wrote.

When questioned by detectives, Hernandez allegedly claimed another vehicle with its brights on caused him to crash. He also said he fled the crash scene out of fear of Zimmer's husband and to "find help," according to the report. He said when police arrived in the area, he became scared again and hid.

"Hernandez advised he didn't know he had hit and killed a person," the affidavit states.

He was arrested for investigation of automobile homicide, two counts of leaving the scene of an accident and driving on an expired license. Monday in 4th Distinct Court, bail was set at $500,000 cash only for Hernandez and an immigration hold was placed on him while federal officials checked his status.

Hernandez allegedly told police he was deported to Mexico in 2008 after being arrested for DUI in 2008 by Pleasant Grove police.

In May, Hernandez was cited for driving without a valid license, according to Utah state court records.

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