A Tampa man who has been wanted in connection with allegedly killing another in a drunken wrong-way driving wreck in 2012 was arrested last week on the southern coast of Spain, 4,600 miles away.
Authorities allege that Christopher Ponce (aged 22 at the time) drove his new 2012 Ford Fusion south on the northbound lanes of I-275 near the downtown exit in the early morning hours of July 19, 2012. He is alleged to have driven his vehicle head-on into another vehicle driven by twenty-year-old William Brooks Angel, with twenty-two year-old Robert Patrick Newberry and twenty-year-old Jay Davis as passengers. Angel expired at the scene, while Newberry and Davis were transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital with serious injuries that would take years of surgery and rehabilitation to repair. Ponce was also taken to the hospital and arrested by Florida Highway Patrol troopers upon his release that afternoon.
Ponce was subsequently booked into Hillsborough County Jail on six felony counts involving drunk driving and vehicular homicide. He remained incarcerated until the following May, when he was fitted with a GPS tracking device and released. Authorities say that he removed the device after a year while awaiting trial and fled the country.
In the intervening years Angel’s friends and family have worked with authorities from several different jurisdictions to track down Ponce. His family set up a website, and the story was featured on national media outlets. Ponce was finally apprehended by Spanish police in the coastal city of Almeria. The arresting officers in Spain allege that he was acting suspiciously, prompting them to investigate further. They said that he slipped into a public restroom to avoid them, but after the officers caught up with him, they said he had a bus pass to Madrid in the name of another and a fake Mexican passport. His fingerprints matched those of Ponce when fed through an Interpol database. Ponce now faces extradition hearings, which may take months.
The Law Offices of Bjorn Brunvand have been representing individuals charged with drunk-driving offenses for over two decades. Contact us today to discuss your Tampa Bay-area charges.