Nederland man charged in deadly hit-and-run indicted on separate drug charge

Published 3:01 pm Wednesday, March 2, 2022

A Nederland man accused of leaving the scene of a fatal hit-and-run was indicted Wednesday on an unrelated drug charge.

According to a probable cause affidavit, 39-year-old Zachary Ryan Highlander was arrested Dec. 22 following a traffic stop in Nederland.

In his report, the arresting officer said at 8:17 a.m. he was patrolling in the 3100 block of Avenue A when he encountered a red Jeep with an expired registration.

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When approached by the officer, the driver of the vehicle began fidgeting and seemed nervous. An empty baggie was spotted in the passenger seat.

A K-9 unit was called to the scene, the report states, and the dog gave a positive alert. When the officer searched Highlander, he reportedly found a butane lighter that had a twisted baggie sticking out from the lid. Inside the baggie was 2.1 grams of meth, the affidavit says.

As of Wednesday, Highlander remained in the Jefferson County Jail on a third-degree felony drug charge and a $100,000 bond. Two additional charges listed on the jail roster have no bond amounts — accident involving injury/death and tampering with physical evidence.

In October, Highlander was arrested after allegedly hitting a pedestrian with his vehicle and fleeing the scene.

Authorities said at 2:33 a.m. on Sept. 26, the driver of a Dodge Ram struck and killed 32-year-old Nichole Robinson of Port Neches. Robinson was walking on the shoulder of SH 347 when she was hit.

Investigators were able to identify the vehicle involved through video footage from a nearby business.

Highlander later told police he was driving the night of the incident, but thought he had hit a pot hole.

MORE: Brother saw sister dead in road after Nederland hit-and-run, police say