Driver who hit ambulance was ‘grossly impaired’ and now a 3-year-old boy is dead

Jose Duran Romero
Jose Duran Romero

A driver court documents describe as “grossly impaired” hit an ambulance carrying a mother and 3-year-old boy early Sunday. Now the boy is dead.

Jose Duran Romero, 27, allegedly crashed his Honda Accord into the side of a Mercedes Lifecare Ambulance on southbound U.S. Highway 52 near Liberty Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Winston-Salem just after 1 a.m. on Sunday.

Police said both drivers lost control of their vehicles. The ambulance rolled onto its side. The Honda ran off the road.

Nearly two hours after the crash, Romero’s blood-alcohol content was 0.19 – more than twice the legal limit – police said. He didn’t have a driver’s license and had never had one, court documents said.

Fox 8 Winston-Salem reported that federal authorities believed Romero was in the country illegally, but that had not been publicly confirmed as of Monday.

Court documents described Romero as “grossly intoxicated” with slurred speech and bloodshot, glassy eyes at the time of the crash.

Romero was charged with driving while intoxicated, failure to reduce speed to avoid a crash and driving without a license. He was being held in jail on a $50,000 secured bond. His passenger, Adres Leon, 33, was charged with failure to render aid or give information in connection to the wreck. Leon was given a $1,000 bond and had left the Forsyth County Jail as of Sunday night.

Federal officials put Romero under an immigration detainer, which will allow U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agents to take Romero into custody once he is released from local custody.

The mother and her son – who had not been identified as of Monday evening – were on their way to a trauma center when the ambulance was struck, said Winston-Salem Police Lt. Rick Newnum.

The boy had been in stable condition before the crash north of downtown Winston-Salem but emerged from the wreck with life-threatening injuries, Newnum said. Winston-Salem police said the boy died on Monday.

The mother and two other adults aboard the ambulance were treated for minor injuries. All were taken to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center for treatment, according to multiple reports. The injured adults were expected to be OK.

The highway was closed for three hours as crews worked to clear the wreck.

Romero was expected to appear in court on Tuesday and has another court hearing set for April.

Anyone with any information can call the Winston-Salem Police Department at 336-773-7700 or CrimeStoppers at 336-727-2800.