DENVER – The suspect in a crash that claimed the life of a father of five on Highway 83 last week is in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody and has appealed the denial of his request to reopen his immigration case.
Miguel Ramirez Valiente, 42, was cited for careless driving resulting in death and driving with a revoked license after the crash, which killed Sean Buchanan. Colorado State Patrol said Buchanan was riding his motorcycle on Highway 83 when Ramirez Valiente allegedly swerved into his lane, hitting and killing him. Buchanan had just got a new job and was in the process of moving his family to Castle Rock the day he was killed.
Ramirez Valiente received attention in January while seeking sanctuary at a Colorado Springs church as he tried to avoid being deported to his native El Salvador.
But a close acquaintance of his told Denver7 earlier this week that Ramirez Valiente is an alcoholic and abuser. He pleaded guilty to a 2017 charge of DUI and had his license revoked, and on Aug. 1 – a day before the crash that killed Buchanan – his probation for the DUI was extended because he had not completed community service or alcohol therapy, as required.
"He should have been arrested after the crash," the acquaintance said. "He just had a DUI, and he’s driving with no license, and he killed somebody, like you shouldn’t walk away from that."
She worried that Ramirez Valiente might try to flee before he faced new charges. But ICE spokesperson Alethea Smock said Friday that he was in ICE custody and provided more information about his immigration case.
Smock said Ramirez Valiente was first discovered in the U.S. in August 2005 after he entered the country illegally in El Paso, Texas. He claimed he was from Mexico at the time and he was removed back to the country that day, Smock said.
It’s unclear when he re-entered the country, but he was again picked up by ICE after his April 2011 arrest in Douglas County for reckless endangerment – a charge that was later dropped. Smock said Ramirez Valiente was issued a notice to appear in immigration court and that he was released from ICE custody after he posted bond.
He pleaded guilty in March 2018 to the 2017 DUI charge, and in October 2018, was ordered in absentia to be removed from the U.S. by the Executive Office for Immigration Review. He requested the same office reopen his immigration case in February, but that request was denied, Smock said.
She said that after his most-recent citation following the crash, he has been taken into ICE custody.
“He is currently in ICE custody and has filed an appeal of the denial of the motion to reopen with the Board of Immigration Appeals,” Smock said.