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Woman pleads not guilty to fatal South Sioux City hit and run

Woman pleads not guilty to fatal South Sioux City hit and run

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DAKOTA CITY -- A Sioux City woman pleaded not guilty Tuesday to striking and killing a pedestrian in South Sioux City, then driving away from the scene.

Maria Gonzalez-Diego entered her plea in Dakota County District Court to charges of motor vehicle homicide and failure to stop at the scene of an accident resulting in death.

Maria Gonzalez-Diego mugshot

Gonzalez-Diego

District Judge Bryan Meismer scheduled a pretrial hearing for Jan. 7. A trial date will be set later.

Gonzalez-Diego, 19, will remain in custody in the Dakota County Jail on a $500,000 bond. If found guilty, she faces a prison sentence of up to 50 years for vehicular homicide and up to three years for leaving the scene of the crash.

She is accused of striking Antonia Lopez De Ramirez with her car on June 24 in the intersection of East 15th and B streets. Lopez De Ramirez, 62, died later at a hospital.

According to court documents, Gonzalez-Diego told police that she was on her phone while driving and had already hit the woman by the time she looked up. Gonzalez-Diego told police she became scared and took off.

Sioux City police stopped Gonzalez-Diego about 10 minutes later on suspicion of drunken driving. A preliminary breath test showed her blood alcohol content at .292 percent, more than three times above the legal limit of 0.08 percent, and she was charged with second-offense operating while intoxicated.

Police in South Sioux City later used debris at the scene of the hit and run to link Gonzalez-Diego's car to the incident.

At the time of her June 24 arrest, Gonzalez-Diego was out on bond in Woodbury County after being arrested in Sioux City a week earlier for second-offense OWI.

Gonzalez-Diego has pleaded guilty in Woodbury County to both second-offense OWI charges and is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 25.

Joel Perea Duenas mugshot

Perea Duenas

A second person charged in connection with the hit and run told police he and Gonzalez-Diego spent three hours drinking tequila and smoking THC wax at his home prior to the crash.

Joel Perea Duenas, 19, of South Sioux City, has pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of procuring alcohol for a minor resulting in serious bodily injury or death. A trial date has yet to be set.

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