Man on phone with girlfriend during crash that killed her, now charged
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) —
The 37-year-old man who hit a Delray Beach patrol car that later led to the death of his girlfriend is now facing a slew of charges.
James Avirett is facing charges of vehicular homicide, reckless driving causing serious bodily injury, driving on a suspended license, as well as a citation for going 109 in a 45 mph zone, according to police.
Delray Beach police say Avirett sideswiped Officer Nicolas Hernandez's patrol car the night of Dec. 22 with his silver Jeep Grand Cherokee on the southbound lanes of Congress Avenue. Hernandez wasn't injured, but watched the Jeep speed south on Congress, blowing through a red light at Linton Boulevard, Avirett tried to make a right turn on Southwest 29th Street, but was unable to because of how fast he was going.
Avirett crashed into a Fiat 124 Spider waiting to turn onto Congress, police said. The force from that crash propelled the Jeep onto the sidewalk, hitting Avirett’s girlfriend, 41-year-old Dara Treechatinant, then smashed into a power pole.
Delray Beach Fire Rescue transported her to Delray Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead Christmas day, according to police. The driver of the Fiat, 77-year-old Michael Fogg of Boca Raton, was taken as a trauma alert to Delray Medical Center. He has been in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit ever since.
It’s unclear why Treechatinant was standing on that sidewalk, which is about a half mile from the apartment they shared, police said. About two hours after the crash, investigators found her cell phone in the grass. It was still connected to Avirett’s phone, which they found in the Jeep, indicating they were likely on the phone with each other at the time of the crash.
After analyzing the Jeep, traffic homicide investigators determined it was going at 109 mph five seconds before hitting the Fiat, according to police. Avirett hit the brakes as he tried to make the turn and hit the Fiat at about 53 mph.