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'The Hunt' fugitive Christopher Ponce, captured
01:36 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

This story was originally reported August 3, 2014.

In the early hours of July 19, 2012, William Angel, 20, and two friends were driving home from a night out in Tampa, Florida, when their car was struck head-on by a vehicle traveling the wrong way on an interstate. Angel was killed instantly, and his two passengers were seriously injured.

Jay Davis, who was sitting in the back seat, remembers seeing headlights coming toward them as Angel merged onto an exit ramp.

“When I opened my eyes, I was laying through the windshield, face-down on the engine,” said Davis, who had been best friends with Angel since middle school. “The first thing that really crossed my mind was, ‘How am I outside? What the hell happened?’ “

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Davis heard his friend Robert Newberry yell from inside the car, and the two young men kept talking to try to keep conscious. They didn’t hear from Angel and assumed he had been knocked out from the impact.

A short time later, Davis realized that the situation was much worse than he thought.

“The paramedics arrived … (and) I started arguing with the paramedic (to get William first),” Davis recalled. He said he heard someone indicate there was a body.

“I’m still arguing with him about Will, and he just says to me, ‘He didn’t make it.’ And that was the first time that I heard that I’d lost my best friend,” Davis said.

The driver of the other vehicle, Christopher Ponce – 22 years old at the time – was treated for his injuries before he was arrested and charged with reckless driving, DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide, according to Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins, who was one of the first to respond to the accident scene. Ponce had a previous DUI arrest, and his license had been suspended after a variety of infractions across the state of Florida.

“There are people that really shouldn’t be on the road behind the wheel of a car, that really should be in jail, and Christopher Ponce is one of those people,” Gaskins said.

During his bond hearing, the presiding judge criticized Ponce for his actions, saying, “I think you were drunk. I think you were lucky you didn’t have a girlfriend in the car that didn’t die.” Nonetheless, he released Ponce on bail and required that he wear a GPS ankle monitor while awaiting the results of a toxicology test. The judge issued a stern warning to Ponce: If the test results showed that Ponce had been under the influence, he would be sent to jail.

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But when the toxicology report came back, showing that Ponce’s blood-alcohol level was almost twice the legal limit, the presiding judge recused himself because of his comments to Ponce during the bond hearing.

The new judge allowed Ponce to remain out on bond. The Angel family was shocked and angered by the decision.

“You kill somebody with a gun, you’re not allowed out on bail. You kill somebody with a car – I mean, he still killed him,” said William’s mother, Lynn Angel. “So why is he given the privilege of being home?”

During the nine months Ponce was under house arrest, he was allowed to remove the monitor during MRIs for a broken ankle he sustained in the crash.

On May 9, 2013, Gaskins got a call that Ponce had removed his ankle monitor and disappeared. Police believe Ponce’s family or friends may be helping him evade authorities. The family started a website to try to find Ponce and face charges in the death of William Angel.

“All it takes is one little mess-up, one little detail to catch somebody,” William’s brother Wade said.

Angel family website