DADE CITY — Bertin Jaimes went before a judge Thursday afternoon via closed-circuit television. A Pasco sheriff's deputy translated his Spanish.
A prosecutor demanded $100,000 bail. Authorities say Jaimes, 25, nearly killed Deputy Darren Hill when the Ford F-150 he was driving crossed the center line on State Road 54 early New Year's Day and slammed into the deputy's cruiser. He fled the scene and was arrested later, according to reports.
Circuit Judge Lynn Tepper set bail at $52,000, but the number didn't really matter. Jaimes, his brother and his sister-in-law are being held under a detainer issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement until the agency's investigators decide what to do with them.
Jaimes was voluntarily removed from the United States to Mexico twice in June 2011, said immigration officials.
Florida Highway Patrol reports say Jaimes had been partying on New Year's Eve at a rural Land O'Lakes home near the Conner Preserve. He left and made it 18 miles in the direction of his home, 5230 Fourth St. in Zephyrhills, before he crashed into the cruiser at 4:22 a.m., reports state.
Pasco sheriff's reports say Jaimes' brother, Jose, came to pick him up near the crash scene and the two returned to the party. Hill, who managed to activate an emergency button on his radio, was flown to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa.
A woman who owns the truck told deputies that it had been taken to the New Year's Eve party and provided a list of people who may have been driving it.
Investigators went to the home looking for Jaimes but said Raymundo Soto, who lives there, gave them false information.
Eventually investigators made it to the Zephyrhills neighborhood where several of Jaimes' family members live.
Reports say deputies were met with more lies from Gladys Soto, 24, Jaimes' wife; Jazmin Sanchez-Aguirre, 21, his sister-in-law; and Jose. They spoke Spanish to each other, Sheriff Chris Nocco said, underestimating the deputies' language skills. All four were arrested on obstruction charges.
Sanchez-Aguirre and Jose Jaimes also were being held for the immigration authorities.
Reports list the Jaimeses as being from Tejupilco, Mexico.
By Thursday afternoon, Hill, 29, had come out of surgery and was in good spirits, even giving a thumbs-up in a photo, said sheriff's spokeswoman Melanie Snow. He has two broken legs among other injuries.
Doctors expect he will be in rehab for at least five months.