DES MOINES, Iowa – A Des Moines man is facing vehicular homicide charges after police say he was driving while drunk Thursday night and caused a crash that killed a woman and injured her husband.
According to the Des Moines Police Department, the crash happened around 8:41 p.m. at the intersection of E. 33rd Street and E. Euclid Avenue. Four vehicles were involved and the occupants of one vehicle, a married couple in their 70s, were transported to hospitals.
Police say 71-year-old Linda Vander Hart, a passenger in the vehicle, died of her injuries. Her husband, 74-year-old Daniel Vander Hart, remains hospitalized.
Criminal complaints in the case say three vehicles were stopped at a red light or just beginning to move again after the light turned to green when Zuniga came up from behind and failed to slow down. He hit the victim’s vehicle, “causing the driver to suffer a broken jaw and the passenger to sustain fatal injuries.”
Police say witnesses told them 67-year-old Bertoldo Zuniga was driving “erratically and at a high-rate of speed” before his vehicle crashed.
The complaint says Zuniga was showing signs of impairment on the scene and admitted to officers that he had consumed alcohol before driving. He failed a field sobriety test and a breath test taken on scene just over an hour after the crash registered a BrAC of .171.
Zuniga is now charged with vehicular homicide by OWI, vehicular homicide by reckless driving, serious injury by vehicle, OWI 2nd offense, and traffic violations.
Police say the Zuniga’s excessive speed and impairment appear to be significant contributing factors in the crash.
He is being held in the Polk County Jail.