On March 30, 2007, a Mexican national named Alfredo Ramos slammed into the rear of a vehicle in which Alison Kuhnhardt, 17, and Tessa Tranchant, 16, were sitting, while waiting at a traffic light.
Ramos, 22, was traveling at least 65 mph, when he hit the Plymouth Duster, and had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .24, according to court documents.
The two high school students had to be cut from their crumpled car and both died a short time after being transported to the hospital. Ramos suffered only a busted lip.
Tessa’s brother, Dylan, was tasked with identifying his little sister’s body.
Dylan, a Marine, had only been home from Iraq for two weeks, when his sister was killed.
Ramos had been living in Virginia Beach for quite a while and worked at a local Mexican restaurant known as Mi Casita. He was previously convicted of three separate charges of public intoxication, identity theft, as well as a DUI.
Despite his criminal history and illegal status in this country, Ramos was never reported to federal immigration officials, and continued to live in the area. He speaks only Spanish and required an interpreter at all of his court proceedings.
The case gained national fame thanks to the reporting of Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, who called Virginia Beach a ‘sanctuary city’ for illegal aliens.
O’Reilly placed the blame on that city’s Mayor Meyra Obendorf and Police Chief Jake Jacocks, and characterized the resort town as a place where foreign criminals were allowed to roam freely.
Chief Jake Jacocks went on the offensive and claimed that O’Reilly was wrong in focusing on the fact that Ramos was an illegal alien. He accused the Fox News commentator of turning the girls’ deaths into a “political issue.”
However, shortly after the girls were killed, information on how the Virginia Beach Police Department deals with illegal aliens came to light.
“A 2005 Virginia Beach Police Department policy forbids officers from asking the immigration status of defendants charged with misdemeanors. Police Chief Jake Jacocks Jr. has said the policy is meant to encourage illegal aliens to report crimes without fear of retribution,” the Washington Times reported.
Ramos pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated involuntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison, and ordered to be deported upon his release.
In 2010, Tessa’s dad, Ray Tranchant penned an op-ed piece for Fox News about his daughter’s death, what follows is a portion of his powerful words...
My 16-year-old daughter,Tessa,was killed by an illegal immigrant in Virginia Beach three years ago while sitting at a stop light. Her friend Ali Kunhardt, 17, also perished instantly.
Beautiful girls with tons of future plans, they had just stopped at a convenience store for a pack of gum at 10 on a Friday night. I can imagine that they were giggling about something as they waited for the red light to turn green. Tessa was in the passenger seat...I’ll never forget her laugh.
The explosion was so loud that witnesses said it sounded like a bomb going off, hit from behind by a black Mitsubishi going more than 70 mph. They were tiny, skinny little girls stuffed somewhere in the floorboards when the police and EMT crew arrived.
When I got to the hospital in what seemed like a dream sequence, Tessa’s bed was lying next to Ali’s, separated by a privacy curtain. Both girls were perfectly still, skin cold to the touch.
Tess was covered with a hospital blanket, and her clothes lay in a bag by her bedside, cut off by the EMT and the ER doctor who tried to revive her, to no avail. I looked at her large brown eyes, pupils dilated, eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling. She still had a mask taped to her mouth with a long rubber tube. The center of the tube was filled with bright red blood. Amazingly, she had only a little bruise on her forehead, and her big toe was bleeding. I noticed that she had had a couple of her nails done with glitter, probably had just enough money to do two. She worked at the Golden Corral; Ali worked at The Fresh Market.
Alfredo Ramos, a previous DUI offender and alcoholic, seemed invisible in a system that was good at looking the other way. Virginia Beach and Chesapeake were being accused of being “sanctuary cities” as Bill O’Reilly and Geraldo Rivera screamed at each other during the national news hour. O’Reilly was right.
I know what sanctuary means more than most ever will.
Alfredo Ramos is currently housed at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Va., and has a scheduled release date of March 14, 2028, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections.