St. Thomas man faces negligent homicide charge now that victim in DUI has died


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ST. THOMAS - After the victim of a car accident was taken off life support, the man being accused of causing the accident now will face a charge of negligent homicide, V.I. police confirmed Wednesday.

Markim Tonge, 27, was taken off life support the day before Thanksgiving, three days after he was involved in a rollover collision on Veterans Drive near the seaplane terminal. Tonge had been on life support since the afternoon of Nov. 25.

He had been in critical condition since the incident having suffered brain and skull trauma. He also had both legs broken during the accident.

Schneider Hospital declined to disclose the condition of Tonge to The Daily News, and V.I. police did not report Tonge's death.

Prior to Tonge's death, Fidencio Hernandez, 60, already was being charged with driving under the influence, operating a vehicle with an illegal alcohol level, negligent driving and reckless endangerment, according to a probable cause fact sheet filed after Hernandez's Nov. 25 arrest. Hernandez has two prior DUI convictions.

Hernandez still is in the custody of the V.I. Corrections Bureau, with his bail set at $50,000.

The collision occurred after midnight Nov. 24, when Tonge was in a vehicle traveling westbound on Veterans Drive with his cousin, 21-year-old Kyle Stewart. Tonge was the passenger while Stewart was driving, according to court documents.

Hernandez, who had been at the nearby Rosa's Bar, was going to withdraw cash from the ATM so that he could buy more drinks, court documents said. He visited the Banco Popular, 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.

Hernandez, not seeing any one else on the road, 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 Tonge.

Emergency responders used the Jaws of Life, a large mechanical tool used to extract people from mangled cars, to free Tonge. Stewart sustained no serious injuries.

Tonge was in critical condition immediately after the accident and 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, court documents said. A neurosurgeon was flown in from Puerto Rico, in an effort to treat Tonge.

A day after the accident, a test showed that Tonge's brain no longer had any activity.

Hernandez injured his ankle and shoulders.

V.I. police have not reported whether Tonge, Stewart or Hernandez were wearing seatbelts.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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