Fatal Nederland hit-and-run suspect back in jail on unrelated charge

Published 12:30 am Friday, December 31, 2021

A Nederland man previously jailed in connection with a fatal auto-pedestrian crash and fleeing the scene is now jailed on a drug possession charge.

Nederland police arrested Zachery Highlander, 39, Dec. 22 in the 3500 block of Avenue A.

Assistant Chief Andy Arnold said at approximately 8 a.m. Dec. 22 an officer made a traffic stop on a vehicle driven by Highlander because the registration was expired. The officer noted Highlander was extremely nervous, Arnold said. Highlander had been arrested on a drug charge in the past, which led the officer to become suspicious.

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A search was conducted and the officer reportedly found what is suspected to be methamphetamine on his person.

In an unrelated case, at approximately 2:33 a.m. Sept. 26, Nicole Robinson, 32, of Port Neches was walking on the shoulder of Texas 347 near Third Avenue just north of Nederland when she was struck and killed by a vehicle that left the scene.

During the ensuing investigation, state troopers located surveillance video allegedly showing the crash as well as video from Tammy’s Bar, located north of the scene that reportedly showed Robinson leave the bar and walk southbound on the highway.

Not long after she left, a Dodge Ram reportedly driven by Highlander was filmed heading in the same direction, according to court documents. Nederland police were notified and the officer reportedly saw Highlander washing the truck on the morning of Sept. 26 and there were miscellaneous car parts surrounding a trash can.

The suspect was stopped the next day and his truck had significant damage to the front, right end and some front end parts were missing. A later check of the vehicle showed evidence of human blood, not deer as he had told police.

Oct. 5 he was arrested on warrants for accident involving injury or death and tampering with physical evidence.

Highlander was indicted on the charges Nov. 3 and bonded out of jail Nov. 13, according to information from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. Conditions of his bond included having a GPS monitor and home confinement.

He is being held without bond at the Jefferson County Correctional Facility as he violated conditions of his previous bond.