Driver of truck that killed NC boy might be in country illegally, officials say

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HILLSBOROUGH, N.C.  — A man charged in the death of a young boy killed by a runaway truck earlier this week was the first case called Wednesday afternoon inside an Orange County courtroom.

Alejandro Suarez appeared via video while still behind bars.

Suarez used a translator in court for his first appearance on a misdemeanor death by vehicle charge.

Hillsborough police say Suarez is responsible for killing Everett Copeland, 5, on Monday afternoon, court documents say. Everett was hit by a truck while outside in his Hillsborough neighborhood.

During his processing at jail, Suarez was given an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer, because there was a question regarding his legal status in America.

Police say Suarez left the truck, which was on a hill, unattended, without turning off the engine and effectively setting the parking break.

The truck then rolled downhill, hitting Everett and smashing into a house, according to police.

Related story: 911 calls reveal frantic moments after Hillsborough boy hit by dump truck

Suarez’s attorney, Bill Young, talked outside the courthouse.

“Imagine being even remotely connected to a tragedy like this, how would you feel? That’s how he feels,” said Young.

Young says Suarez is devastated about what happened Monday.

“He’s a young man who’s a really good person that is caged as a result of this tragedy and doesn’t think he needs to necessarily be anywhere else, but it’s a fairly desperate situation there,” said Young.

“Nothing like what this family is having to deal with, and he knows that and he’s happy to sit there right now for that reason,” Young added.

Officials talked about the question regarding Suarez’ legal status in America.

“If he makes his state bond, then ICE would have the option to come and pick him up and take him out of our jail,” said Jim Woodall, Orange County’s District Attorney.

Young says no matter what his client’s citizenship is, Suarez is focused on the victim’s family, his attorney said.

“No matter what else anyone else says about some label that might be attached to him, this is a truly, truly good person that is literally devastated at being even remotely or directly, or in any connected to a tragedy like this,” Young said.

During court, the attorney and prosecutor agreed on a $10,000 bond for Suarez.

Young says his client has not spoken to the victim’s family, but while he’s locked up, he sends his condolences.

“No matter what, or who is responsible, or who’s the owner of anything, his number one concern, and it’s the only thing he talks about right now, is being concerned for the family of this deceased child,” said Young.

It’s still not clear what company Suarez was working for.

His attorney says he does have family here in the country but there was no sign of them in court Wednesday. Suarez is scheduled to be back in court January 9.