INDIANAPOLIS – A Guatemalan man living illegally in the U.S. pleaded guilty Friday to driving drunk in a crash that killed Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson and his Uber driver.
Manuel Orrego-Savala, 37, pleaded guilty to two counts of operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .15 or more, causing death.
Orrego-Savala had a BAC of 0.19 per cent, or more than twice Indiana’s legal limit of .08 per cent, when his truck crashed into Uber driver Jeffrey Monroe, 54, of Avon and Jackson, 26, as they stood outside Monroe’s car on the shoulder of Interstate 70. Investigators have said Monroe was transporting Jackson for the ride-sharing service on Feb. 4 and had pulled over after Jackson became ill.
Orrego-Savala is due to be sentenced Sept. 14 and faces a possible maximum sentence of 16 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $20,000.
Under a plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to drop two counts of failing to remain at the scene of an accident.
Orrego-Savala was deported from the U.S. in 2007 and 2009 and was back in the country illegally at the time of the crash, authorities said.
The case became a flash point in the nation’s immigration debate, with President Donald Trump tweeting about it and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Braun featuring it in an Indiana campaign advertisement.
Savala also faces charges of perjury, forgery, identity deception and false informing out of Boone County for allegedly using the alias of Alex Cabrera Gonsales 2017 for driving without a license. Savala initially identified himself as Cabrera Gonsales to police following the February crash.
Additionally, federal immigration officials have filed charges of illegal re-entry by a previously deported alien against Savala.