Suspect in alleged DWI crash that killed dispatcher set for trial

EDINBURG — The Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office announced Monday morning that it was unable to agree on a plea deal for a 20-year-old man accused of driving drunk and killing a sheriff’s dispatcher.

Orlando Zuniga Rodriguez, who remains in jail, appeared with his attorney, Ricardo Flores, to make the announcement.

Rodriguez is accused of causing the crash that killed Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher Sandra Coronado near the 4600 block of Expressway 281 at about 6:46 a.m. Dec. 9, 2018.

He is charged with intoxication manslaughter, accident involving injury, accident involving death, intoxication assault and fraudulent use of possession of identifying information.

At his last hearing in August, Flores told state District Judge Marla Cuellar that Rodriguez was in talks with the state, which said it needed to speak with Coronado’s family about the negotiations, according to court records.

The probable cause affidavit for Rodriguez’s arrest, alleges that the man 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.”

Authorities say he fled the scene of the crash, and that when Rodriguez was caught, he smelled of alcohol and marijuana while displaying bloodshot eyes and slurred speech.

He was arrested in the 300 block of East Owassa Road.

Rodriguez’s 20-year-old passenger suffered a collapsed lung in the crash.

Cuellar scheduled the trial for late January.