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Hit-run suspect turns self in

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The man accused of causing a hit-and-run accident Monday that killed two highway workers and injured three others in Burtonsville is an illegal alien, Montgomery County police said yesterday.

Manuel De Jesus Gonzalez-Geronimo, 31, of Hyattsville, turned himself in to Prince George's County police at about 12:30 a.m. yesterday. The county police turned him over to Montgomery County police.

Officer Rodney Barnes, a spokesman for the Montgomery County police, said Mr. Gonzalez-Geronimo has been charged with, among other offenses, failing to stay at the scene of an accident and driving without a license.

The crash occurred Monday when police said Mr. Gonzalez-Geronimo was driving a 1999 Ford Econoline 150 van north on Route 29 above Route 198 when he lost control and hit a truck in a work zone on the shoulder of the road.

The impact diverted the van to the guardrail where the five workers were sitting.

Martin Ruffin, 30, of Baltimore, died at the scene, police said. James Cronin, 37, of Glen Burnie, was flown to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore and later died.

Three other workers, Hugo Perez, 28; Jose Padillo, 35; and Rafael Ramos, 30, were taken to local hospitals and are expected to survive.

Police said Mr. Gonzalez-Geronimo ran into nearby woods.

Yesterday, Montgomery County Assistant State's Attorney Bryan Roslund said a pretrial-services worker testified at a bail-review hearing yesterday that Mr. Gonzalez-Geronimo admitted to being in the country illegally.

But Mr. Roslund and Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Ernestine Fobbs said Mr. Gonzalez-Geronimo's immigration status has not been confirmed.

"We are working to determine his status to be sure that he is in the country illegally," Miss Fobbs said. "If he is in the country illegally, we will place a detainer on him, and he will processed after all the local charges run their course."

Mr. Gonzalez-Geronimo initially was held on $150,000 bail at the Montgomery County jail, but a judge revoked the bail yesterday, Officer Barnes said.

Mr. Roslund said Mr. Gonzalez-Geronimo is scheduled to go to trial next month.