Suspect in fatal DeLand hit-and-run believed to have fled back to Mexico

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DeLAND, Fla. —

Troopers said a man who they believe was drunk when he hit and killed a woman with his car should not have been allowed to bond out of jail, because he was an immigrant from Mexico and a flight risk.

Suspect William Lopez, however, was granted a $35,000 bond by Judge Dawn Fields, and he's now nowhere to be found.

The bail bondsman who posted the bond said he has not been able to contact Lopez for a month.

A special hearing wrapped up Wednesday with a judge deciding whether to issue an arrest warrant for Lopez, who prosecutors said struck and killed 61-year-old Connie Rodriguez on U.S. Route 17 last month in DeLand.

"You got to recognize that time is valuable with people that you love, because you never know what might happen," said Rodriguez's daughter, Heather Alston.

Police said Lopez admitted to drinking and smelled of alcohol the night of the crash.

David Damore, the attorney for the bail bondsman, requested the emergency hearing and asked a judge for a warrant for Lopez's arrest.

"Mr. Lopez is an illegal alien," said Damore. "He is an immigrant worker. He's undocumented. He has no reason to stay here. He's facing 15 years in prison."

The court is now aware that Lopez may have fled, but any efforts to find him could be too little too late.

"All the indications are that he fled back to Mexico," said Damore. "That means that a dead woman and her family will never see justice."