Undocumented immigrant pleads guilty in Edwin Jackson’s death
The man accused of hitting and killing NFL linebacker Edwin Jackson and his ride-share driver with a truck in February agreed to a plea agreement Friday.
Manuel Orrego-Savala pleaded guilty to two counts of causing the death of a person while driving under the influence of alcohol. He faces 10-16 years in prison when he’s sentenced in September, according to the Marion County, Indiana, prosecutor’s office.
Orrego-Savala, 37, is a Guatemalan citizen who entered the United States illegally in July 2004, according to detectives, and was deported twice, in 2007 and 2009. His last name is spelled Orrego-Zavala on some court documents.
Defense attorney John L. Tompkins says his client is extremely remorseful. Orrego-Savala was originally charged with four counts, but agreed to plead guilty to two counts if the other two counts were dropped. Tompkins also is representing Orrego-Savala in a federal criminal case alleging illegal entry into United States. Tompkins said that hearing has not been scheduled yet.
Fatal crash details
The crash happened the morning of February 4. Authorities said Jackson, who played for the Indianapolis Colts, was the passenger for a ride-sharing operator, identified as 54-year-old Jeffrey Monroe of Avon, Indiana.
Monroe had pulled his 2018 Lincoln to the side of Interstate 70 in Indianapolis because Jackson had become ill, according to state police. Monroe was believed to have stepped out of the car to help Jackson, police said.
Both men were standing outside the car when a black Ford F-150 pickup truck drove onto the emergency shoulder and struck them and the back of the car. One of the men was thrown into the center lane. A state trooper spotted the wreckage and as he slowed to stop for the crash, he struck the body in the center lane, officials said.
Both men were pronounced dead at the scene by the Marion County coroner’s office.
Police said Orrego-Savala was the driver of the F-150. Police said he gave them an alias at the scene and attempted to flee on foot. ICE said it placed an immigration detainer on Orrego-Savala at the Marion County Jail.
A man listed as Alex Cabrera Gonsales — the alias officials say Orrego-Savala used — was arrested in March 2017 in Whitestown, Indiana, after a driving infraction, according to a Whitestown police report. Whitestown police confirmed that Cabrera Gonsales and Orrego-Savala are the same person.
Orrego-Savala was also convicted of driving under the influence in Redwood City, California, in 2005, ICE said.
Reactions to Jackson’s death
Jackson was from Atlanta, but made a home for himself with the Colts. The inside linebacker started eight games in 2016 for the Colts but did not play this past season due to an injury.
“Edwin was loved by all in the Colts organization,” the team said. “We admired his outgoing personality, competitive spirit and hardworking mentality. He was well-respected among all with whom he crossed paths, and he will be greatly missed in our locker room and throughout our entire organization.”
Colts owner Jim Irsay also took to Twitter after Jackson’s death saying: “Our hearts and prayers are with Edwin Jackson’s family. Terrific young man, respected and liked by all. Rest In Peace, Edwin.”
President Donald Trump referenced Orrego-Savala’s immigration status in a tweet in February, saying it was “disgraceful that a person illegally in our country” killed Jackson. He also called on Democrats to “get tough on the Border, and with illegal immigration, FAST!”
Vice President Mike Pence, the former governor of Indiana, tweeted also about Jackson’s death, describing it as “a senseless & avoidable tragedy.”
Jackson was an undrafted free agent out of Georgia Southern in 2015. The team’s head football coach, Chad Lunsford, said in a statement that Jackson represented “how a young man should live his life. He earned everything that he was given and left this world way too soon.”