Forklift operator in fatal crash undocumented, authorities say

Ulises Mondragon Umanzor fled scene in deadly crash, undocumented


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The driver of the forklift that killed a man in a Fort Lauderdale crash Sunday has had multiple fines for driving without a license, court records show.

Ulises Mondragon Umanzor, 30, told investigators at the time of the crash he was not licensed to operate the vehicle that struck and killed a vehicle being driven by James Zakos while he was operating a forklift used at a nearby construction project on Las Olas Boulevard.

Umanzor failed to provide a license at the time of the accident and it was later revealed that since 2011, he has received three fines for driving without a license, investigators said. 

At the time of the accident, Umanzor told authorities he was not authorized to operate the forklift and did not possess the proper permit. 

Umanzor, an El Salvador native, is not a U.S. citizen and is undocumented, investigators said.  

Umanzor was arrested Sunday after the forklift he was driving collided with a black Mercedes-Benz convertible driven by Zakos at the intersection of Poinsettia Drive and Seabreeze Boulevard.

The forks from the machine being driven by Mondragon were sticking out too far when it struck the front windshield frame of Zakos' vehicle, bending it backwards as he was driving southbound on Seabreeze Boulevard.

Zakos was rushed to Broward Health Medical Center with a severe head injury. He was pronounced dead at the hospital, investigators said.

Witnesses at the scene said Mondragon continued driving the forklift after it struck Zakos westbound on Poinsetta Drive.

"The construction worker first backed up the forklift (after the accident) and drove through the intersection to the staging area," a witness said. "It was only because other people who watched the accident went to go get him (that he stopped)."

Umanzor was later arrested as a result of the crash.

Investigators noted that not only did Umanzor flee the scene, parking nearly a block away and then walking away from the accident scene on foot, he also failed to call 911.

Umanzor was allegedly working on a construction project nearby as a subcontractor with Southeast Skanska USA, Inc. 

"We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this time," a spokeswoman from Southeast Skanska USA Inc. said. "An investigation led by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department is underway, and we are fully cooperating with authorities."

Southeast Skanska USA Inc. is conducting its own investigation of the crash, the company said.

Authorities have placed an immigration hold on Umanzor.