Man gets 5 years for drunken crash that left another man brain dead

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ST. THOMAS - A 60-year-old man will spend five years in prison after he drunkenly drove into another car, leaving a man brain dead just before Thanksgiving last year.

V.I. Superior Court Judge Adam Christian sentenced Fidencio Hernandez, of St. Thomas, after Hernandez pleaded guilty to one count of vehicular homicide earlier this year.

Hernandez was held responsible for the death of Markim Tonge, 27, who was taken off life support the day before Thanksgiving.

Hernandez was intoxicated when he was driving the vehicle that hit another vehicle containing Tonge and his 21-year-old cousin, Kyle Stewart, head on, according to the probable cause fact sheet filled out by V.I. Police.

Stewart was driving westbound on Veterans Drive, with Tonge in the passenger seat, just after midnight Nov. 24.

Hernandez, who had been drinking at a bar, was going to withdraw cash from the nearby ATM so he could buy more drinks, court documents said. Hernandez visited the bank, but was unsuccessful in making a withdrawal, so he decided to go to the ferry dock, where he thought that he might find another ATM.

Hernandez turned onto Veterans Drive and ran a red light, as he took a right-hand turn trying to get to the ferry dock, court documents said.

Hernandez drove his Toyota Corolla into the Mitsubishi sport utility vehicle containing Stewart and Tonge, according to court documents.

The collision forced the SUV into a utility pole, after which the SUV overturned on its right side, trapping and crushing Tonge.

Stewart sustained no serious injuries, and Hernandez injured his ankle and shoulders. Tonge was in critical condition immediately after the accident, having suffered a broken femur and several skull fractures, which caused bleeding in the skull and brain swelling.

Because of Tonge's condition, medical personnel were unable to transport him to another hospital outside the territory, and a neurosurgeon was flown in from Puerto Rico to treat him, according to court documents. A day after the accident, a test showed that Tonge's brain no longer had any activity.

Hernandez initially was charged with driving under the influence, operating a vehicle with an illegal alcohol level, negligent driving and reckless endangerment.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email

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