A 20-year-old Warner Robins man was sentenced to serve five years in prison in connection with an April 2008 traffic accident that killed a Bonaire woman.
Edgar Zaldua, of Fisher Street, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in the first degree in Bibb County Superior Court on Monday morning, the 1-year anniversary of the crash.
Prosecutor John Regan said Bibb County deputies received a call at 4:39 a.m. April 27, 2008, after Zaldua arrived at Coliseum Medical Center with serious injuries.
He is reported to have told hospital workers he had been in a wreck on Interstate 475 south between Thomaston Road and Eisenhower Parkway.
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When deputies arrived at the crash site, they found a red 1991 Honda Accord about 30 feet off the road in a wooded area and the body of 19-year-old Kelly Hill of Bonaire who had been ejected from the car, according to the sheriff’s office.
Hill and Zaldua had attended a party in Monroe County and were headed to Houston County, Regan said.
Zaldua’s blood alcohol content was recorded at 0.06 at the hospital about an hour after the crash.
In Georgia, a person under 21 is deemed to be driving under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol content of 0.02 — not the legal limit of 0.08 for individuals over 21, Regan said.
Zaldua told deputies that Hill had been driving and that he had called a friend to pick him up from the site of the wreck and take him to the hospital, according to the sheriff’s office.
Months later, investigators determined Zaldua was the driver based on his injuries and evidence deputies found inside the car that placed him behind the wheel.
Deputies say evidence at the crash site indicated Zaldua was driving south on Interstate 475 when the vehicle veered off the road and struck several trees on the right shoulder.
Both Zaldua and Hill were ejected. Hill died at the scene.
Hill’s mother read a prepared statement in the courtroom prior to Zaldua’s sentencing.
She reminisced of nights at her daughter’s softball games, her daughter’s sense of humor and her hopes of becoming a teacher.
“She was beautiful and lively and we miss her very much,” she said.
Family members seated on both sides of the courtroom in support of Zaldua and Hill’s family wept during the remarks.
Zaldua’s attorney, Mark Beberman, said Zaldua doesn’t remember the crash.
He only remembers being at the hospital. Zaldua suffered a concussion and internal bleeding as a result of the crash.
Zaldua apologized for his actions prior to receiving his sentence and said he prays the Hill family will one day forgive him.
“I don’t know how I will ever forgive myself for what I’ve done,” he said. “I’m truly, truly sorry.”
After completing his prison sentence, Zaldua also must serve five years on probation, attend alcohol and drug treatment and perform 100 hours of community service.
He also is banned from attending clubs and bars.
Information from The Telegraph’s archives was included in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.