More details have emerged about a fatal accident that split a car in half, killing four passengers early Friday morning in Mexico City. Authorities have detained the driver and sole survivor, who sustained only minor injuries.
The crash occurred at around 3:30am when a white BMW 6 series coupé veered off Paseo de la Reforma, the city’s most famous boulevard, at the intersection with Avenida Lieja and collided with a steel post, splitting the car in two.
Yesterday morning, Mexico City Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera told television broadcaster Televisa that according to expert analysis the vehicle was traveling at more than 185 km/h when it struck the post.
A graphic surveillance video of the scene immediately after the accident showed the dismembered and decapitated bodies of the victims strewn on the ground.
The driver, 33-year-old Carlos Salomón Villuendas Adame, was under the influence of alcohol, said Mancera, who explained that he survived thanks to the activation of air bags. When emergency services personnel first arrived at the scene they didn’t see Villuendas because he was covered by the bags.
Although the driver refused a blood test to determine whether he had consumed alcohol or drugs prior to the accident, deputy Attorney General Óscar Montes de Oca told Radio Fórmula that a forensic expert who carried out a physical examination found that Villuendas was under the influence of both.
After being treated for his injuries he was transferred to the Reclusorio Preventivo Varonil Sur detention center. A judge has ordered preventative imprisonment on a charge of culpable aggravated homicide.
In a hearing on Sunday, the accused was refused bail because of his and his father’s prior convictions – the son was arrested for public intoxication and urination in May 2009 — and because his economic situation made him a flight risk. The next hearing will take place on Friday.
If convicted, Villuendas, a graduate of the Iberoamericana University and manager of a private security company owned by his father, could face 20 years in prison.
The dead are Luis Fernando García, 30, Carlos Roberto Martínez, 27, Karla Saldaña, 29, and Claudia Ivonne Reyes.
Family members of the four have indicated to the accused’s lawyers they will not grant an official pardon to the driver, which means a trial will go ahead.
According to the newspaper Reforma, the five occupants of the vehicle had been at a bar in the upscale Polanco neighborhood. They left around 3:00am to give Saldaña a ride to her home in the Cuauhtémoc neighborhood.
She was a friend of Fernando, the only one of the group who knew the driver.
In an interview with Reforma, Saldaña’s sister Paloma wondered why the bar’s valet had given the driver his keys if he was inebriated.
The sisters lost their father three years ago and together financially supported their family. Karla sold jewelry to finance her studies and had recently found a job in the Finance Secretariat. She was going to get married in the fall.
Paloma Saldaña said there would be no pardon for the driver. “We’re not going to do it. We want to raise public awareness and get justice for the four families that have lost loved ones. This must never happen again.”