Couple face child endangerment charges following hit-and-run crash

Published 8:09 am Tuesday, May 10, 2016

DUI Wreck Arrests
An Elizabethton man and woman were arrested over the weekend after police said the pair had been drinking and fled from the scene of a motor vehicle crash with three small children in their minivan.
Carter County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Samantha Maney arrested Monica Hernandez, 21, and Eduardo Lopez, 23, both of 518 Johnson Ave., Elizabethton, on Saturday night. Maney charged Hernandez with driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident with injury, driving without a license, violation of financial responsibility and three counts of child endangerment. The officer charged Lopez with public intoxication and three counts of child endangerment.
Around 9:45 p.m. on Saturday, Maney was dispatched to a report of a hit-and-run accident on Highway 91.
While en route to the call, dispatchers told Maney a dark-colored minivan had left the scene of the crash and was headed toward Elizabethton. Maney saw a minivan matching the description of the suspect vehicle sitting stationary on the southbound shoulder of Highway 19E . When Maney stopped to check the vehicle, she said she noticed the minivan had “extensive damage” to the driver’s side.
Maney was able to identify the driver as Hernandez and the passenger as Lopez. The officer also located three small children in the minivan. “I saw two toddler girls —age 5 and 2 — walking around the back of the van crying and one small toddler boy, 15 months, being held by the passenger, Mr. Eduardo Lopez,” Maney said. “The oldest female, 5 years old, had blood coming from her nose and on her dress and the other children were crying.”
The officer then called for emergency medical personnel from the Carter County Rescue Squad to respond to the scene.
When the officer spoke with Hernandez and Lopez, she noted that both appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Lopez was unsteady on his feet, had glossy red eyes and had a strong odor of alcohol emitting from his person, Maney said, adding Lopez admitted he and Hernandez had been drinking alcohol.
“I asked Mrs. Hernandez if she had her driver’s license, insurance and registration when she handed me an envelope from Mountain States Health Alliance. I gave it back to her and stated this was not it and she handed me an envelope for Elizabethton Electric,” Maney said. “I handed Ms. Hernandez back the envelope and asked her if she had been drinking. Ms. Hernandez stated she had.”
Lopez was arrested and transported to the Carter County Detention Center.
While speaking with Hernandez, Maney said the woman became unresponsive and required medical attention. After being treated, Hernandez was cleared for incarceration and transported to the detention center.
Both Lopez and Hernandez were arraigned in Carter County General Sessions Court on Monday morning.
Judge Keith Bowers Jr. appointed the Public Defender’s Office to represent Lopez and appointed attorney Greg Norris to represent Hernandez. Bowers lowered Lopez’s bond to $5,000 and lowered the bond for Hernandez to $10,000.
Lopez and Hernandez are scheduled to return to General Sessions Court on May 16.

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