WASHINGTON — The accident that killed a Des Moines 12-year-old has garnered the attention of Sen. Charles Grassley, after questions over the immigration status of the driver police say caused the crash were raised.
Police said 18-year-old Fernando Lopez Aguilar ran a stop sign last Thursday at Southeast 6th and Bell, causing a crash that involved three vehicles which injured five people. Some of the people in the crash suffered serious injuries and 12-year-old Lea Phann died from her injuries this week.
Lopez Aguilar faces a number of charges in connection with the crash — including homicide by reckless driving.
Sen. Grassley wants to see immigration records for Lopez Aguilar and has sent a letter with the request to the Department of Homeland Security.
In the letter, Grassley states, “It has come to my attention that Fernando Lopez Aguilar had previously been approved for President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) but has since fallen out of status and currently resides in the U.S. illegally. If true, Lea Phann died at the hands of someone who broke our laws and should not have been allowed to remain in the United States.”
Grassley’s request includes when Lopez Aguilar first entered the U.S., whether he’s been arrested on any criminal or civil matters, whether he applied and received immigration benefits, and whether he has previously been deported from the U.S.
Lopez Aguilar is being held in the Polk County Jail.
Several memorials and fundraisers have been planned to honor Phann. Wednesday night the South Des Moines Girls Softball team will hold a memorial for her at 1300 Havens Avenue in Des Moines. The memorial begins at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday night a candlelight vigil is planned at the scene of the crash, Southeast 6th and Bell Ave, at 7:00 p.m. People are being asked to wear the color green – Phann’s favorite color.