Wednesday, April 25, 2007

An illegal immigrant from Mexico has been charged with involuntary manslaughter

Kim Bell:

Pedro Santos (left) and his victim Nicole Elizabeth Allen

A suspected drunken driver was charged Saturday with involuntary manslaughter after his car plowed into the back of another vehicle, killing a young woman.

The suspect, Pedro Santos, 27, was arrested about 3 a.m. Saturday, about three hours after the crash, hiding in woods not far from the scene at Marine Avenue and Bennington Place.

Killed in the crash was Nicole Allen, 21. She was a back-seat passenger in an Acura that had slowed or just stopped at the intersection, waiting for a green light, about midnight Friday. A Lincoln Town Car slammed into the back of the Acura.

Allen died at the scene. The Acura's driver, Larry Lane, 24, suffered minor injuries. His front-seat passenger, Charles Miller, 28, had two cracked vertebrae. Both remained hospitalized Saturday at St. John's Mercy Medical Center in Creve Coeur.

Police say that Santos' vehicle was disabled by the crash and that he ran from the scene. Authorities used a helicopter and search dogs to find him. Police say they think Santos had been the only person in the Lincoln.

Three hours after the crash, Santos appeared intoxicated, police said. Santos' blood was drawn, but results of his blood-alcohol level aren't yet available, said Maryland Heights police Sgt. Mark Pruett.

Prosecutors in St. Louis County charged Santos with involuntary manslaughter, two counts of second-degree assault by driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident. Bail was set at $100,000.

Santos admitted to police that he had entered the country from Mexico illegally. His local address was in the 12300 block of Bennington Place. Police say he was a restaurant cook.

Allen lived with her mother, Denise Buchholz, and stepfather, Brian Buchholz, in the 11800 block of Gold Leaf Drive, an unincorporated pocket of St. Louis County near Maryland Heights.

Allen graduated in 2004 from Parkway North High School. She worked as a server at Red Robin restaurant and was a junior at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, studying photography, graphic design and art history.

"She was a cute, petite, fun-loving friend," said her aunt Debbie Nolen of Springfield, Mo. "She was a little angel."

The fact that Santos is an illegal immigrant was not lost on Allen's family, who gathered at the home on Gold Leaf. That further enraged them.

"He had no business being on the road anyway, but he's drunk on top of it," Nolen said.

Some of her friends plan to set up a fund for memorial contributions at Citizens Bank in Florissant, said Allen's stepfather. The money may be used for a scholarship for art students.

DUI Death in the Heartland


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