Two arrested in fatal 2009 Yuma crash
Yuma County deputies arrested a Yuma man Tuesday on second-degree murder charges, nearly three years after he allegedly drove a car involved in a single-vehicle accident in which one person was killed.
Jose Ramirez, 25, is also being held on charges of endangerment and tampering with a witness in connection to the accident, which happened at about 1:05 a.m. Oct. 23, 2009 in the vicinity of Scottsdale Avenue and East 34th Place.
Rudy Natal, 21, died in the crash.
Also arrested and being held on charges of second-degree murder (criminal liability) and hindering an investigation is Jose Marquez, 26, who was a passenger in the car at the time of the accident.
According to Capt. Eben Bratcher, a spokesman for the Yuma County Sheriff's Office, Ramirez, Marquez and Natal were all traveling in a red 1987 Ford two-door passenger car when the driver lost control and struck a brick wall. During the accident, Natal, who was a passenger, was ejected from the vehicle, landing on the collapsed brick wall where he was found deceased.
Bratcher said while evidence at the scene indicated Natal was not driving the vehicle, Ramirez and Marquez continued to maintain through the course of the investigation that he had been. Due to the time the accident occurred, and the location, there were no other witnesses.
“We had long suspected (Ramirez) was the driver of the car, but were unable to definitively prove it. The two survivors conspired together to identify the deceased individual as the driver,” Bratcher said. “Accident scenes are chaotic by nature and while we had long suspected he was the driver, we now have the proof we needed.”
New information about the accident that came to light on Tuesday prompted deputies to re-interview both Ramirez and Marquez. Bratcher said Ramirez admitted he was driving when the crash occurred during an employment interview.
Bratcher said Ramirez also admitted that he and Marquez had consciously made the decision to continue the false statement placing the deceased Natal behind the wheel of the vehicle. An interview with Marquez and a third person confirmed Ramirez's statements.
“I'm going to suspect there was some sort of impairment involved,” Bratcher said of the accident.
James Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.