Ponce is accused of driving drunk in the wrong direction on I-275, slamming head-on into another car
The crash killed 20-year-old William Angel and seriously injured two of his friends
It’s been more than three years since Christopher Ponce allegedly slipped off an ankle monitor and skipped bail.
The 26-year-old fugitive’s time on the lam came to an end when police arrested him in Spain this week, Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins said.
Ponce, who was featured on CNN’s “The Hunt with John Walsh” in 2014, was charged with DUI manslaughter after a fatal 2012 car crash in Tampa, Florida.
“Extradition is in motion,” Gaskins wrote on Twitter.
Ponce is accused of driving drunk in the wrong direction on I-275, slamming head-on into another car.
The crash killed 20-year-old William Angel and seriously injured two of his friends.
For nine months, Ponce was under house arrest, but was allowed to remove the GPS monitor during MRIs for a broken ankle he suffered in the crash.
In May 2013, officials say he removed the ankle monitor and disappeared.
‘What the hell happened?’
Jay Davis remembers seeing headlights coming toward him as he headed home after a night out on July 19, 2012.
Angel, his best friend since middle school, was at the wheel, merging onto an exit ramp. Davis was sitting in the back seat. And a car was barreling toward them.
“When I opened my eyes, I was laying through the windshield, face-down on the engine,” Davis told CNN in 2014. “The first thing that really crossed my mind was, ‘How am I outside? What the hell happened?’ “
Davis and another friend survived. Angel died at the scene.
The driver of the other vehicle, Ponce, was treated for his injuries before he was arrested and charged with reckless driving, DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide.
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 told “The Hunt” in 2014.
Judge issued stern warning
During a bond hearing after Ponce’s arrest, 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.
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?”
After Ponce’s disappearance, police said they believed friends or family could be helping him evade authorities.
It’s not clear where he’s been since he left his home in 2013.
Police in Spain arrested Ponce at a bus stop, Gaskins said.
Spanish police could not be immediately reached for comment.
The arrest marked a major breakthrough in the case, but it could take time before Ponce is back in the United States.
The extradition process could take up to seven months, Gaskins said. But even though more steps must be taken in the case, he said, news of Ponce’s arrest already is helping Angel’s family heal.
The Florida Highway Patrol sergeant has a personal connection to the 2012 crash. He was the first person from his agency to arrive at the scene.
“I can attest to the absolute violence of the car crash which took a young life and maimed two others forever,” he said Wednesday. “Along with numerous other members of the FHP who all worked as a team to build a strong case, I can tell you we are happy to report that Chris Ponce has been located and will finally be called to answer for his crimes.”
CNN’s Tricia Escobedo contributed to this report.