Bluffton man charged in death from fight on Hilton Head

cconley@islandpacket.comApril 13, 2012 

A Bluffton man faces an involuntary-manslaughter charge in connection with a bar fight on Hilton Head Island last month that authorities say caused a man's death.

Friends of the victim, who lived on Hilton Head, at first thought he was drunk when he came home March 25. A head injury was discovered the next day, and he was hospitalized. Investigators were not aware of the incident until after the victim died March 29 and they received an anonymous tip earlier this month, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.

Gerardo Hernandez-Maranon, 22, is accused of punching Mario Hernandez-Hernandez in the face outside Cabritos Restaurant on Mathews Drive at about 2 a.m. March 25, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Hernandez-Hernandez, 26, of Hilton Head, fell and hit his head on the pavement and died four days later at a Savannah hospital, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Investigators believe the altercation began over comments the victim reportedly made to the suspect's girlfriend.

Sgt. Robin McIntosh said the victim returned home with an acquaintance after the fight and was helped to bed by his roommates, who believed he was only drunk. The roommates called for paramedics the next morning after his condition worsened, she said.

The victim was taken to Hilton Head Hospital but transported to St. Joseph's/Candler Health System in Savannah after medical personnel discovered his head injury. He died there on March 29 from severe head trauma, McIntosh said.

The victim was from Mexico, but McIntosh said it wasn't clear where the suspect was from. She said the two men did not know each other. Immigration status for the two men was not immediately available.

Investigators ultimately learned of the fight from an anonymous tip and were led to Hernandez-Maranon after interviewing witnesses, McIntosh said.

Hernandez-Maranon was arrested without incident Friday at his home in the Estates at Westbury, initially on bench warrants for driving without a valid license, McIntosh said.

He was being held late Friday in the Beaufort County Detention Center on a charge of involuntary manslaughter. McIntosh said a bond hearing would likely occur sometime today.

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