About a dozen relatives of the woman and four children killed last weekend in a traffic collision crowded into the same room Wednesday with the 19-year-old man who police say is to blame for the deaths.
The family members were in court at 7:45 a.m. for Ronald Jayne Jr.’s first court appearance since being arrested on suspicion of felony drunken and reckless driving in connection with the deadly crash. The brief hearing was to determine whether authorities could keep him in jail, but the matter was left unresolved and was to be taken up again today because prosecutors had not yet filed the criminal case against Jayne. They said Wednesday that they were awaiting documentation regarding his blood tests.
Police have said that at least 20 charges will be filed against Jayne, including multiple counts of driving under the influence and causing a death or substantial bodily harm.
Pro-tem Judge Robert Walsh asked whether Jayne understood what was going on, and the Army reservist softly answered, “Yes, sir.” Walsh asked whether Jayne had any questions, and he replied, “No, sir.”
Afterward, 15-year-old Claudia Santacruz, whose 32-year-old mother, Claudia Dominguez, and 9-year-old brother, Fernando Santacruz, were killed in the collision at Farm Road and Tenaya Way on Saturday night, said, “I hope he stays in jail. That’s what he deserves.”
Santacruz and other family members wore pins that said “Stop DUI.” She also had added a “Stop DUI” bracelet to the same wrist where she wore an orange “Keep It Fun” bracelet. That orange bracelet had belonged to her brother and was found at the scene of the crash, she said.
Santacruz’s father, Fernando Santacruz, who had flown to Las Vegas from San Diego on Sunday morning, said Jayne needed to remain behind bars because “if he is released anytime soon, he can kill people.”
“It’s sad because he’s (Jayne) so young. But he’s old enough to drink and drive, so he needs to be punished for what he did,” Fernando Santacruz said.
Claudia Dominguez, his ex-wife, had worked as a saleswoman at the Tesorini jewelry store at the Bellagio, and she was driving a 1998 Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle on the night of the accident. Only three of her eight passengers remained alive Wednesday night.
Police said Jayne was eastbound on Farm in a GMC Sierra pickup about 9:30 p.m. when he ran through the stop sign at Tenaya and slammed into the driver’s side of the SUV. The force of the collision ruptured the SUV’s gas tank, causing the Mercedes to catch fire.
A witness told police that Jayne appeared to be going at least 70 mph just before the crash, according to a Las Vegas police report. The speed limit on Farm is 35 mph.
Jayne took a preliminary breath test and failed, according to the report. Police also drew his blood to be tested. Police noted in the report that when they interviewed Jayne, he said he had been drinking and driving.
But Jayne denied that he had been speeding or had failed to stop at the stop sign, according to the police report.
Police have said they expected Jayne to face at least 20 felony charges.
Jayne’s attorney, Jeffrey Shaner, declined to comment on the case Wednesday.
Friends of Jayne have come out in support of him on Myspace.com and elsewhere.
Ryan Seegmiller, 20, said Wednesday afternoon that he has known Jayne for six years. “He’s a great kid, and he doesn’t deserve to be in this situation,” Seegmiller said. “He’s not known for drinking and driving.”