Driver charged in 911 dispatcher's death

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A Florida man is facing a felony charge and several misdemeanors for a car accident in April that killed a Camden County 911 dispatcher on Interstate 95. Rachel Hodge, 26, died instantly when her car plowed into the back of a tractor trailer at 97 mph on her way home from work that morning. The...

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A Florida man is facing a felony charge and several misdemeanors for a car accident in April that killed a Camden County 911 dispatcher on Interstate 95.

Rachel Hodge, 26, died instantly when her car plowed into the back of a tractor trailer at 97 mph on her way home from work that morning. The truck she hit was in the right lane but standing still or barely moving. 

Georgia State Patrol investigators have learned that the semi truck driven by 50-year-old German Proenza had a mechanical issue and couldn’t have been going faster than 5 mph, according to the arrest warrant.

On the scene, GSP trooper Steven McKinney asked Proenza, who is not fluent in English, twice how fast he was going, asking once through Google translate. Proenza said 65 mph both times and drew the numbers with his finger once.

McKinney asked the sheriff’s office to send an interpreter and a deputy who speaks Spanish responded. Through that deputy, Proenza said he had set the cruise control for 75 mph. A trooper with the accident reconstruction team asked Proenza later about his speed and Proenza allegedly lied again.

McKinney placed a hold on both vehicles and a mechanic examined Proenza’s truck, telling troopers the truck had run out of diesel exhaust fuel and would have only been able to go 2 to 5 mph. Data from a recorder on Proenza’s truck show he was either stopped or going 2 mph at the fastest, according to the arrest warrant.

Proenza was arrested for making a false statement, which is a felony, for the information he allegedly gave about his speed. Misdemeanor charges include homicide by vehicle and failure to exercise due caution because the minimum speed was 40 mph, operating a vehicle unsafely, impeding the flow of traffic, reckless driving, obstructing officers and improper stopping in the road.

Proenza, who lives in Miami, turned himself in at the Camden jail on June 30. He bonded out July 6.