Man accused of crashing into occupied ambulance in Winston-Salem had extremely high blood alcohol level


Jose Martin Duran Romero

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A baby is in a Triad hospital with life-threatening injuries after Winston-Salem police say a drunk driver smashed a car into an ambulance carrying the child.

Police say 27-year-old Jose Duran Romero's blood-alcohol content was at more than twice the legal limit and he didn't have a driver's license. Federal authorities also believe Romero was in the country illegally.

A mother and baby's trip from the mountains in Virginia ended in Winston-Salem early Sunday morning.

Police say Romero crashed a Honda Accord into the side of a Mercedes Lifecare Ambulance on southbound U.S. 52 near Liberty Street around 1:15 a.m. Both drivers lost control. The ambulance rolled over on its side and the Honda ran off the road.

EMS rushed the baby, the mother and two paramedics inside the ambulance to the hospital. As of Sunday night, the baby was listed in critical condition with life-threatening injuries. The others are expected to be OK.

Police say the ambulance left from Wise, Virginia, more than a three-hour drive from Winston-Salem. Police wouldn't tell FOX8 where the passengers in the ambulance were heading or why they were driving through the Triad.

Romero is in jail on a $50,000 secured bond. He's charged with DWI, failing to reduce speed to avoid a crash and driving without a license. Federal authorities also put Romero under an immigration detainer. The detainer will allow U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents to take Romero into custody once he is released from local custody.

Romero's passenger, Andres Leon, 33, is charged with failing to render aid and give information. He was given a $1,000 bond and Forsyth County Jail officials say he was not in the jail as of Sunday night.

Court documents give more details about what happened after the crash. A witness described what Romero looked like to police after the crash. He had "bloodshot, glassy eyes," "slurred speech" and looked "grossly impaired."

Romero blew a 0.19 on a breathalyzer nearly two hours after the crash; that's more than twice the legal limit.

Court documents also show Romero has never had a driver's license.

Romero will be in court for a first appearance hearing Tuesday morning and has another court hearing scheduled for April.

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