A 22-year-old Winston-Salem man had a blood-alcohol level of more than four times the legal limit and was driving nearly 80 mph when he crashed into a car this past February, critically injuring a 2-year-old boy, a prosecutor said in court Thursday.
Ronnie Wesley Ramos Ponce of the 4000 block of Leo Street, pleaded guilty in Forsyth Superior Court on Thursday to one count of felony serious injury by motor vehicle and several misdemeanor charges, including no operator’s license and speeding.
Judge Brad Long of Forsyth Superior Court consolidated the charges into the felony count, as the plea agreement called for, and sentenced him to 12 months to 24 months in prison.
Aaron Berlin, the regional traffic safety resource prosecutor for the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys, said Thursday that the crash happened Feb. 25 on East 25 Street near Jackson Avenue at 5:40 p.m.
Berlin said Ponce had a blood-alcohol content of 0.36 percent, more than four times the legal limit of 0.08 percent at the time of the crash.
He said in court that crash data from Ponce’s car indicated that he was driving 80 mph five seconds before the crash.
A witness told Winston-Salem police that she saw Ponce driving more than 70 mph and running through a blinking red light at East 25th Street and LaDeara Crest Lane.
According to Berlin, Ponce was driving west on East 25th Street when his 2000 Chevrolet Malibu crossed over the center line and into the eastbound lane.
Kendra Shanika McClary was driving a Nissan Altima and had 2-year-old Michael Bruton III, a child she was caring for, in the back seat. McClary tried to swerve to the left when she saw Ponce, but Ponce’s car hit her car on the right side.
Ponce and Bruton were both taken to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center for treatment. Berlin said Bruton had bruising on the brain, a laceration to his liver and spinal injuries. He also had significant scarring on his face, Berlin said.
Berlin said in court that in his most recent visit with the child, Bruton continued to have scarring on his face but was also walking. The child is now 3.
Whitt Davis, Ponce’s attorney, said in court that Ponce is sorry for what happened. Ponce didn’t start drinking alcohol until he was 21.
“He just went crazy with alcohol,” Davis said.
Ponce doesn’t remember anything about the crash, Davis said.
Berlin asked for a harsh sentence because Ponce could have killed someone as impaired as he was behind the wheel.
“We’re lucky we’re not in a death situation,” he said. “It’s just like a weapon driving down the street when you’re impaired.”