Teen Charged In Local Coed’s Death Remains Jailed

A teenager who’s charged with manslaughter in a traffic crash that claimed the life of a local community college student remained jailed on an immigration detainer Monday.

Mariela Cruz (Jail photo)

WACO (August 29, 2011)-- Mariela Cruz, 17, of Valley Mills, who’s charged with manslaughter in traffic crash that claimed the life of a McLennan Community College coed, remained jailed Monday on an immigration detainer.

Bond on the manslaughter charge was set at $30,000.

Cruz, 17 turned herself in to authorities Friday after she was named in an arrest warrant stemming from a traffic crash in April that claimed the life of MCC student Megan Self, 19, of Crawford.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit released Monday, Cruz, who has never held a valid Texas driver’s license, was using a cell phone at the time of the crash.

"Mariela Cruz did not have a driver's license nor has she ever had one, and therefore she should not have been driving a motor vehicle on a public roadway," the affidavit said.

The investigation determined that Cruz "was driving at an unsafe speed for the existing conditions" and that she was using a cell phone while driving, the affidavit said.

Cruz's telephone records "revealed Cruz was talking on her cellular telephone at the time of the crash, the affidavit said.

"It is apparent that while she was talking on her cell phone, her attention was diverted from her driving and her surroundings," the affidavit said.

Authorities say she was the driver of a car that struck Self’s Toyota Corolla from the rear at around 9 a.m. on April 5 as Self was making a left-hand turn from Highway 6 onto Compton Road.

The impact of the collision pushed Self’s car into the path of a southbound 18-wheeler.

Self was trapped in the wreckage of the car and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Cruz and the driver of the 18-wheeler both escaped serious injury.

Self graduated last year from Crawford High School where she participated in track and cross-country.

Cruz was also attending MCC, authorities said.

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