Texas A&M University-Kingsville engineering graduate student Jaya “Bharat” Reddy Marella died April 17 as a result of injuries from a car accident, university officials reported this past weekend.
Charges against Saul Martinez, the 24-year-old who slammed Marella’s vehicle on April 8, are expected to be upgraded to intoxication manslaughter, according to reports from the Corpus Christi Police Department.
Martinez was arrested on accusations of intoxicated assault after the accident put Marella, who was scheduled to graduate this spring semester, into a coma.
Marella died after several brain surgeries were attempted to save his life.
CCPD Senior Officer Kirk Stowers said because of Marella’s death, crash investigators must apply to change the criminal complaint from intoxicated assault (a 3rd degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison) to intoxicated manslaughter (a 2nd degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison). As of the time of this report, Stowers is not aware of any changes being to the complaint.
According to Nueces County Jail officials, Martinez was no longer in custody; presumably he posted bail, which was set at $25,000.
Marella, a graduate student in industrial engineering, was set to graduate in May. He underwent multiple brain surgeries at Christus Spohn Hospital in Corpus Christi before succumbing to his injuries. He and his family received numerous donations to help with expenses via a GoFundMe fundraiser set up by his family. With an original goal of $100,000, the family reached its goal in days.
The accident occurred on I-37 after Martinez’s Ford F-150 slammed into Marella’s Nissan Altima, causing both vehicles to flip multiple times, according to police reports.
Dr. Terisa Riley, senior vice president for Student Affairs, said: “Bharat’s family thanks everyone for their thoughts, prayers, and support during this difficult time.” Riley also confirmed counseling will be available to students from Student Health and Wellness at the College of Engineering during normal business hours.
Stowers, who says there have already been six deaths on Corpus Christi roadways this year due to vehicle crashes, says: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of life by preventable conditions such as intoxicated operation of a motor vehicle.”
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