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DNA clears one, jails another in 2015 crash

DNA evidence – collected from an airbag – has cleared one man and resulted in the arrest of another in connection with a fatal crash on High Falls Park Road here on July 25, 2015. The crash killed a Mexican citizen in this country illegally. ******************** NOTICE: This story and photo(s) are under copyright. They may not be republished or disseminated in any form or format – including social media – without explicit permission. ********************* The crash occurred after a concert at Rancho el Centanario which boasts a horse racing track and other amenities. The driver of a Dodge Charger was eastbound when he attempted to pass a truck pulling a horse trailer in a curve and hit a westbound PT Cruiser head-on at about 10 p.m. Rafael Sandoval-Morales, 40, the right rear seat passenger in the PT Cruiser, died at the scene. He had a Morrow address but was not a U.S. citizen. No one at the scene, including those in the car with him, would admit to knowing the dead man. Multiple others were transported to hospitals. Three days later, Rene Aveldanez, 21, of Forest Park was arrested as he was released from the Macon Medical Center and charged with first degree vehicular homicide, DUI, passing in a no passing zone and suspended license as a result of an investigation by the Georgia State Patrol. ’There were conflicting stories at the scene. The language barrier was also an issue. The state patrol has been working on it all this time,’ sheriff Brad White said last week. That investigation included taking DNA from the driver’s airbag in the Charger. Results of that testing came back last week and cleared Aveldanez and pointed to Eduardo Luis Cervantes, 30, of 6048 Woodview Drive in Morrow. Cervantes was arrested by Dep. Barclay Banta and jailed here Dec. 23. He is charged with first degree vehicular homicide, passing in a no passing zone and reckless driving. He went before Judge Karen Jackson in magistrate court Dec. 26 and was denied bond. ‘The charges against Aveldanez were dismissed. He was excluded by the DNA evidence,’ Judge Jackson reported. Sheriff White said the chaotic scene after the concert, attended by up to 1000 people, many of them intoxicated, led to issues at the crash scene. ’Cervantes initially said he was driving but then later started crying and said he was just covering for his buddy. Cervantes had no seat belt marks on his body from the collision. The state patrol stayed with it and later learned the type Charger involved did not have the lockdown seat belts that would have left the marks,’ the sheriff added. In the days following the crash, coroner Jim Smith had the body of Sandoval-Morales taken to the Mexican consulate in Atlanta and shipped back to Mexico. Cervantes is being held in the Lamar County jail and the case against him will go to a Lamar County grand jury for indictment in the coming months.

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