Charges against a Powder Springs man who police say caused a fatal crash, killing a 17-year-old McEachern High School student, have been upgraded to include vehicular homicide in the first degree.
Percy Sledge Reynolds, 44, was driving drunk at 99 mph along Hiram Lithia Springs Road in a 40 mph zone on the evening of Oct. 25 when he caused the crash that killed Derren Aguirre, a senior at McEachern, police said.
Reynolds was charged at the time with a single misdemeanor count of driving while intoxicated, his Oct. 26 arrest warrant shows.
On Dec. 4, a felony count of homicide by vehicle in the first degree was added to the case, along with two misdemeanor counts of reckless driving and speeding.
Derren Aguirre, a law enforcement pathways student, was the backseat passenger in a Lexus being driven by his father, 52-year-old Robert Aguirre, police said. Derren Aguirre’s mother, 46-year-old Carla Aguirre, was in the car’s front passenger seat.
When the Lexus turned off Hiram Lithia Springs Road at the Meadows Road/Sweetsprings Drive intersection in Powder Springs, it was hit by the BMW being driven southbound on Hiram Lithia Springs Road by Reynolds, police said.
Reynolds was later found to have a blood alcohol level of 0.152 grams per 100 milliliters, well above the state legal maximum of 0.08 grams, or 0.08%, according to his Dec. 4 arrest warrant.
“The front of the BMW collided with the right side of the Lexus,” the warrant states. “The collision caused the Lexus to break in two pieces, ejecting the rear seat passenger. Bottles of Crown Royal whisky were observed outside of the vehicle belonging to the accused.”
The crash occurred just before 11 p.m. when the road was wet, police said.
Data from the BMW’s airbag control module showed Reynolds was driving at 99 mph about five seconds before he hit the Lexus, warrants show.
Derren Aguirre was pronounced dead at the scene. His parents were injured, as was Reynolds, according to warrants.
Reynolds was transported to Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, where officers noticed signs of intoxication as they interviewed him, his Dec. 4 warrant states.
“Accused had a strong odor of alcoholic beverage about his person. He exhibited slurred and mumbled speech. Accused also exhibited bloodshot, watery eyes,” the warrant states.
Police said Reynolds told officers he thought the crash occurred on Barrett Lakes Boulevard, in the area of Ernest Barrett Parkway, about 20 miles northeast of the true location.
“When told where the collision actually occurred, accused stated he was not familiar with the intersection,” the Dec. 4 warrant states. “Accused lives 0.7 miles from where the collision occurred.”
Reynolds was booked into the Cobb County jail on the DUI charge on Oct. 26 and was released after less than 12 hours in custody, on a $5,000 bond, records show.
He was arrested by Cobb police on the new charges at his Chads Park Drive home on the evening of Dec. 4 and remains in the Cobb jail without bond, records show.
McEachern High School Principal Regina Montgomery told the MDJ Derren Aguirre’s death was difficult for his classmates and the wider school community.
“He was just a great kid. He’s definitely going to be missed,” she said a few days after the crash.
Montgomery said Aguirre was a beloved, straight-A senior who was also heavily involved in drama.
The Powder Springs school has about 2,400 students, the school’s website states.
“It’s always a sad thing, doesn’t matter who it is, when this happens,” Cobb Board of Education Vice Chairman Brad Wheeler told the MDJ after Derren Aguirre’s death. “It’s heartbreaking.”