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He awaits trial in a fatal 2016 crash. A new crash put him back in jail.

Jaime Castellano, 27, of Riverview, was returned to the Hillsborough County jail on Friday after a judge found he violated the terms of his 2016 release in a fatal crash by being arrested for driving in an alleged hit-and-run incident. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
Jaime Castellano, 27, of Riverview, was returned to the Hillsborough County jail on Friday after a judge found he violated the terms of his 2016 release in a fatal crash by being arrested for driving in an alleged hit-and-run incident. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
Published Jun. 8, 2018

TAMPA — Jaime Castellano Jr. wasn't supposed to be driving in 2016 when he lost control of a car, resulting in the death of his passenger, according to the Hills-borough County Sheriff's Office. His license had been suspended.

In court, he asked a judge to let him post bail and be freed from jail while he awaited trial on a charge of driving without a valid license causing death. The judge set $25,000 bail on the condition that he would not drive again.

Castellano, 27, is back in jail this week after deputies said he was involved in a hit-and-run crash that violated the terms of his release.

"I can't believe that he would get behind the wheel of a car again," said Anita Morales, the mother who lost her 35-year-old daughter in 2016.

"How many victims will it take before they realize this is not a person ready for society?"

Helemah Elayyan told her mother she was coming home in 2016. After a year in Florida, Elayyan rented a new Nissan Altima and was packed to move back to Michigan with her daughter, Morales said.

"She told me if she couldn't make it in Florida she would move back," Morales said.

But just before she left, Elayyan, 35, got into the Nissan's front passenger seat and let Castellano drive, according to court records. He lost control of the car on Riverview Drive just before 6 a.m. and struck a palm tree at 60 mph, deputies said. The speed limit was 35. Elayyan later died.

Castellano told detectives he was not driving, records show, though his injuries were consistent with being in the driver's seat at the time.

"He tried to blame my daughter for the crash," Morales said. "He's never said sorry or showed any sign that he understands what he took from me."

• • •

On Wednesday night, deputies said Castellano was driving west on Symmes Road when he struck 18-year-old Darwin Lopez-Mendez, who was crossing the street on a bicycle. Castellano sped off.

Deputies said a witness followed Castellano to a mobile home park, where he abandoned the vehicle and tried to hide. He was arrested there.

Castellano was released from jail on Thursday after posting $7,750 bail. Deputies took him back to jail Friday after a judge ruled that he violated the terms of his 2016 release by driving.

Lopez-Mendez, who is undocumented, was taken to Tampa General Hospital. He was listed in serious condition as of Friday evening, deputies said. His family could not be reached for comment.

Times staff writer Breanna Bradham contributed to this story.

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