RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The search for a drunk driving suspect who jumped bail is over after more than a week, but not before causing the family of the victim additional emotional pain.
Mark Rombach, 57, was driving home on Old Stage Road in Garner on Aug. 13 when the State Highway Patrol said 22-year-old Ismael Lopez-Godinez hit Rombach’s truck head-on.
The impact of the crash killed Rombach. Lopez-Godinez was hospitalized.
“He was released from the hospital without the State Highway Patrol’s awareness,” said Mike Rombach, the victim’s brother. “He was picked up some 6-7 hours later at his home address and detained in the Wake County lockup.”
Lopez-Godinez appeared before a Wake County magistrate on Aug. 15, to face charges of felony death by motor vehicle, driving while impaired, and possessing no operator’s license.
“The state trooper requested bail between $250,000 and $500,000,” said Rombach. “The magistrate saw, in his wisdom, to grant bail of $100,000.”
When it came time for Lopez-Godinez to appear in court the next day, he failed to appear. He had jumped bail.
Rombach said when he and his brother’s family learned the suspect was at large, “It was maddening.”
He said, “My sister-in-law, now a widow, was wrestling with how to tell her own children.”
A judge issued an arrest warrant for Lopez-Godinez on Aug. 16, and he was captured nine days later on Aug. 25.
District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said Lopez-Godinez is currently being held on a $300,000 secured bond.
Should he bond out, he will be subjected to both electronic and continuous alcohol monitoring.
The case brought up questions about how many people flee when they are out on bail.
CBS 17 wanted to know what percentage of people jump bail either in the county or statewide.
The Wake County District Attorney’s Office didn’t have that number, but Freeman told CBS 17 that between 10 to 15 percent of people don’t show up for their court dates. However, she said not all of those who are no-shows are on secured bond.
When we checked with the state court system, a spokesman said it doesn’t keep records on the numbers of people who jump bail.