Illegal Immigrant Arrested in Crash That Killed Adviser to Senator

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (Getty Images)
April 17, 2024

The suspect in a hit-and-run crash earlier this month that killed a senior adviser to Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D., Nev.) is an 18-year-old migrant who entered the United States illegally, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported on Tuesday. 

"[Elmer Rueda-Linares] entered the United States March 12, 2021, at or near the Rio Grande City, Texas, Port of Entry without inspection by an immigration official," the Department of Homeland Security told the outlet in a statement on Tuesday, adding Rueda-Linares was arrested but "later released on his own recognizance June 22, 2021."

Rueda-Linares fled the scene following a two-vehicle crash at around 4:30 a.m. on April 6 in Reno, Nev., that killed Kurt Englehart, who was a state senior adviser to Cortez Masto. "The occupants who fled the scene were later located by police, and the driver arrested. Impairment does appear to be a factor in this crash," a news release noted at the time.

The teenage illegal immigrant is being held on $100,000 bail but has since had his charge reduced from felony hit-and-run to failing to stop at the scene of an accident, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. His next court appearance will be on Thursday. 

"Sen. Cortez Masto looks forward to justice being served and has confidence in the local police and prosecutors," a spokeswoman for the Nevada senator said in a Tuesday statement to the outlet.

The victim worked for the senator in various capacities for the past eight years. "A beloved figure across the state, Kurt was always eager to help a constituent at a moment’s notice," Cortez Masto wrote on X. 

"He touched many lives and I know almost everyone in Northern Nevada has a great story about Kurt helping them or making them laugh," Cortez Masto added. "Kurt was a dedicated public servant, a loyal friend, and a loving father."