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The Journal Gazette

  • FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2016 file photo, Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson (53) walks off the field following an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans in Indianapolis.  (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

  • FILE - This June 13, 2017 file photo shows Indianapolis Colts football player Edwin Jackson. Jackson, 26, was one of two men killed when a suspected drunken driver struck them as they stood outside their car along a highway in Indianapolis. (AP Photo, File)

  • This photo provided by the Indiana State Police shows, Manuel Orrego-Savala, a citizen of Guatemala, who is be held in a suspected drunken driving crash that killed Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, along Interstate 70 in Indianapolis.  (Indiana State Police via AP)

Tuesday, February 06, 2018 12:10 pm

Trump: Crash that killed NFL player is 'disgraceful'

RICK CALLAHAN | Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS –President Donald Trump said it was "disgraceful" that an Indianapolis Colts linebacker was killed in a suspected drunken-driving crash by a person who was in the U.S. illegally.

The president also prodded Democrats to work with him on illegal immigration and border security.

Trump tweeted Tuesday: "So disgraceful that a person illegally in our country killed @Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson. This is just one of many such preventable tragedies. We must get the Dems to get tough on the Border, and with illegal immigration, FAST!"

In a second tweet, he added, "My prayers and best wishes are with the family of Edwin Jackson, a wonderful young man whose life was so senselessly taken. @Colts."

The crash also killed Jackson's Uber driver, who was not mentioned by Trump.

Since the campaign, Trump has regularly pointed to crimes connected to illegal immigration as evidence that the U.S. needs to build a wall along the Mexican border and tighten immigration policies. As president, he has threatened to withhold federal funding to cities with sanctuary city policies.

The man suspected of causing the collision Sunday has twice been deported from the U.S., authorities said.

Manuel Orrego-Savala, 37, remained jailed Tuesday but had not been formally charged in Sunday's crash along Interstate 70 in Indianapolis. Prosecutors said they were working with police on the investigation.

The suspect appeared Tuesday before a judge who advised him of his rights. Indianapolis television station WRTV reported that Orrego-Savala told the judge through an interpreter: "I wasn't driving the car. I don't know why I am here." Another court hearing was scheduled for Wednesday.

The Guatemala citizen, who gave officers a fake name when he was arrested, was deported in 2007 and 2009, and was again living illegally in the U.S., police said.

Jackson, 26, and driver Jeffrey Monroe, 54, were standing outside Monroe's car along I-70 after Jackson became ill while Monroe was transporting him for the ride-hailing company, police said.

Both men were struck and killed by a pickup truck driven by Orrego-Savala, police said. Investigators said they believe Orrego-Savala, who lives in Indianapolis, was intoxicated and driving without a license.

A breath test administered at the crash scene found that Orrego-Savala's blood-alcohol content was almost 0.24 percent, or nearly three times Indiana's legal limit of 0.08 percent, according to an affidavit.

The affidavit said Orrego-Savala has had prior run-ins with law enforcement for driving without a valid license and that he was walking away from the crash scene when an Indiana state trooper detained him.

Republican Indiana Rep. Todd Rokita said that "the loss of life at the hands of illegal immigrant criminals should make all Hoosiers sad and ultimately angry."

The crash highlights the need for building a U.S.-Mexico border wall, "ending sanctuary cities and stopping illegal immigration once and for all," he said in a statement.

The fatalities come about two months after a California jury acquitted a Mexican man in the fatal July 2015 shooting of a woman on a San Francisco pier — a death that touched off a fierce national immigration debate.

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who was found not guilty of murder on Nov. 30 in Kate Steinle's death, had been deported five times and was wanted for a sixth deportation when she was fatally shot. Garcia Zarate said the shooting was accidental and occurred when picked up a gun wrapped in a T-shirt under a seat on the pier.

Steinle's death was often cited by Trump as a reason to crack down on illegal immigration.

Jackson, who grew up in Atlanta, started eight games for the Colts during the 2016 season, finishing third on the team with 61 tackles. He was considered a possible starter at inside linebacker for the 2017 but missed the season after suffering an injury during training camp.

The 6-foot, 234-pound athlete previously played for the Arizona Cardinals.