Motorcyclist drove 140 mph to flee trooper who crashed, state patrol says

Norcross man, 21, charged with murder in death of Jimmy Cenescar
Georgia State Patrol Trooper Jimmy Cenescar died from injuries sustained in a crash on I-85 in Gwinnett County.

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Safety

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Safety

Georgia State Patrol Trooper Jimmy Cenescar died from injuries sustained in a crash on I-85 in Gwinnett County.

A 21-year-old man on a motorcycle drove in excess of 140 mph while trying to get away from a trooper who was attempting to stop him, according to the Georgia State Patrol.

Moments later, Trooper Jimmy Cenescar lost control of his patrol car on I-85 in Gwinnett County and crashed. He died from his injuries.

Gerson Danilo Ayala Rodriguez, who investigators said didn’t have a driver’s license or valid license plate on his motorcycle, never stopped after driving recklessly Jan. 28 and then tried to hide evidence he was involved, according to the state patrol.

But five days later, Rodriguez was arrested and charged with murder and vehicular homicide, according to the Department of Public Safety. The Norcross man faces several other charges, including fleeing and attempting to elude, reckless driving, tampering with evidence, speeding and driving without a license.

“Since the event, DPS along with our law enforcement partners have worked tirelessly to investigate the events that led to the fatal crash,” DPS Commissioner Col. William Hitchens said in a video posted on social media.

Arrest warrants obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday offer more insight into Rodriguez’s alleged actions the afternoon of the crash.

“The accused did flee and attempt to elude a marked Georgia State Patrol vehicle with its emergency lights and siren activated,” his arrest warrants state. “The accused did in excess speeds of 140+ mph while recklessly passing traffic. These actions led to a fatal single vehicle traffic crash that resulted in the death of the trooper.”

Cenescar, 28, lost control of his Dodge Charger, which struck a guardrail, hit a DOT sign, traveled down an embankment and hit multiple trees and large draining rocks before striking a retaining wall, investigators said. He had to be extricated from the wreckage and was taken to Northside Gwinnett Hospital, where he died. According to the crash report, the trooper was wearing his lap and shoulder belt.

Gerson Danilo Ayala Rodriguez was being held without bond at the Gwinnett County jail.

Credit: Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office

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Credit: Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office

Rodriguez’s warrants accused him of hiding evidence after the crash, but no details were provided.

Cenescar was the fifth officer to die in the line of duty across the country in 2024, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks law enforcement deaths. Of those five, two were from Georgia.

Cenescar had been employed with the DPS since January 2023 and was a graduate of the 114th trooper school, the agency said. He previously worked for Atlanta police. In October 2021, he saved the life of a motorist who crashed and drove off a bridge on Marietta Road and Thomas Street, Atlanta police said after the incident.

Visitation will be held for Cenescar on Thursday from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m. at Crowell Brothers Funeral Home in Peachtree Corners, the DPS said. The funeral is planned for Friday at 11 a.m. at Mount Paran Church in Atlanta, with burial to follow at Mount Harmony Memorial Gardens in Mableton.

Cenescar is survived by his parents and fiancée, along with a sister and four brothers, according to his online obituary. He was also a student at Georgia Gwinnett College and was on track to graduate in the spring, the college said.

Rodriguez was denied bond at his first court appearance and remained Monday afternoon in the Gwinnett jail.