An illegal immigrant with epilepsy who crashed into the squad car of Phoenix police officer Jason Schecterle in 2002, burning the officer severely, has been deported to Mexico.
Rogelio Gutierrez, 45, was marched across the border in Nogales on September 12 after spending the last nine years in an Arizona state prison, the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement said today.
"While this man's removal from the United States doesn't change the tragedy that befell Officer Schecterle, we hope it does bring some reassurance that Gutierrez will not be posing such a horrific threat on the streets of our communities again," said Katrina S. Kane, field office director of ICE ERO in Arizona.
Well, Gutierrez faces up to 20 years in prison if he returns, and he must know any judge would err on the heavy side of his next sentence. Maybe he'll think twice. And if he does return, or even if he stays in Mexico, hopefully he won't ever get behind the wheel again without taking his medicine.
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Authorities say he'd had a "history of recklessness" regarding his medical condition. He'd caused four previous crashes due to seizures, yet failed to take his meds or see a doctor regularly. (Federal authorities also failed to deport him after each of those crashes, but that's another story.)
The Mexican national was driving about 90 mph when he hit the back of Schecterle's car, causing it to burst into flames.
The officer was burned on more than 90 percent of his body. But in a triumph of human spirit, he stays in the public eye to inspire the rest of us. Just a few days ago, New Times writer Paul Rubin reported how Schecterle hosted his annual scholarship ball.
At least Gutierrez knows someone he can always look up to.