Plea deal possible in drunk driving wreck that killed dispatcher

Orlando Zuñiga Rodriguez, 20, reacts to the charges he faces in connection with a fatal car accident that occurred Sunday, Dec. 9 on North Expressway 281. Zuñiga was arraigned on five charges, including intoxication manslaughter, at Edinburg Municipal Court on Tuesday Dec. 11, 2018. (Delcia Lopez | dlopez@themonitor.com)

A 20-year-old man accused of hitting and killing a Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher while she was on her way to work just weeks before Christmas last year is scheduled to tell a judge whether he will take a plea deal or go to trial.

Orlando Zuniga Rodriguez is accused of causing the crash that killed Sandra Coronado. The collision occurred near the 4900 block of Expressway 281 on Dec. 9, 2018, at approximately 6:46 a.m.

Zuniga Rodriguez faces charges of intoxication manslaughter, accident involving injury, accident involving death, intoxication assault and fraudulent use of possession of identifying information.

At a hearing in August, the man’s attorney, Rick Flores, announced they were negotiating a plea deal with the state, which said it needed to speak with Coronado’s family about the negotiations, court records indicate.

A probable cause affidavit says Rodriguez was driving a Chevrolet Avalanche when he broadsided the Buick Encore SUV Coronado was driving, pushing the vehicle “against the concrete barrier that divides the southbound and northbound lanes of traffic.”

He’s accused of fleeing the scene.

However, authorities say they found him smelling of alcohol and marijuana while displaying bloodshot eyes and slurred speech when he was arrested in the 300 block of East Owassa Road.

A 20-year-old passenger riding with Rodriguez suffered a collapsed lung in the crash.