72ºF

Father of victim in DUI crash killing 3 wants international fugitive caught

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Ten months after a crash that killed three of five friends from Weston, justice is on hold for the victims’ families because the 22-year-old man who was behind the wheel has fled the country.

Miami Dade prosecutors now consider Luis Grateron a fugitive, and they have an arrest warrant prepared to charge him with three counts each of vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter for the deaths of Shelley Rapp, 20, Daniela Hernandez, 21, and Diego Ortiz, 21.

Shelley Rapp, 20, Daniela Hernandez, 21, and Diego Ortiz, 21, died in a DUI car crash in March in Miami-Dade County.
Shelley Rapp, 20, Daniela Hernandez, 21, and Diego Ortiz, 21, died in a DUI car crash in March in Miami-Dade County. (Courtesy of the victims' families)

“The investigation was coming to a close. I know they took DNA from him, so he clearly knew he was under investigation,” Rapp’s father, Steve Rapp, said.

The arrest warrant confirms prosecutors had DNA evidence and were building a case against Grateron since the crash on March 8 in Miami-Dade County.

Days after arranging a surrender with Grateron’s attorney, they learned their suspect had fled the country, just two months earlier, on Oct. 17.

“My wife and I literally were going to write ... ‘We forgive you. It was a mistake. We get it. You did something stupid,’ But it’s forgiveness because he was going to pay the price,” Steve Rapp said. “The minute he didn’t take responsibility and own up to what he did to my daughter and Daniella and Diego, there was just anger.”

The arrest warrant details the moments before the crash, placing Grateron behind the wheel of his turbocharged 2018 Volkswagen Golf with four friends driving on the Palmetto Expressway after partying in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood.

Prosecutors have evidence he was traveling 147 miles per hour before the crash. A surviving passenger says the friends were begging Grateron to slow down, and that he “raised his middle finger” toward a Florida Highway Patrol trooper as he sped by him.

Grateron lost control of the vehicle, which rolled and tumbled down the ramp at 58th Street, the velocity was strong enough to split a tree and eject the engine.

When the Volkswagen finally came to a halt, Grateron and his front passenger, 23-year-old Alberto Abood, crawled out the broken windshield.

Shelley Rapp was dead in the back seat. Hernandez and Ortiz had been ejected from the back seat and killed.

Shelley Rapp died in the back seat of a car that crashed leaving two of her friends dead. Authorities consider the driver a fugitive.
Shelley Rapp died in the back seat of a car that crashed leaving two of her friends dead. Authorities consider the driver a fugitive. (Courtesy of the Rapp family)

Since the crash in March, Steve Rapp has been using Facebook to share publicly about the aftermath of his daughter’s death on Facebook. Most recently, he has been struggling to balance his feelings of compassion and rage since he learned Grateron fled the country and defied justice.

The fatal crash was not the first DUI-related case for Grateron. He was arrested on THC and speeding charges a year earlier in Broward County, and he was participating in a drug court program at the time of the crash.

Rapp said evidence shows Grateron likely flew to Switzerland on Oct. 17, and then connected to a city in Croatia. He believes Grateron maybe with the family he has in Spain and is hoping the mugshot will spread over social media internationally and prompt someone to turn him into authorities.

Luis Grateron is a wanted fugitive in Miami-Dade County in the case of a DUI crash that left three people dead.
Luis Grateron is a wanted fugitive in Miami-Dade County in the case of a DUI crash that left three people dead. (MDPD)

Have you seen Luis Grateron?

To submit anonymous tips, call Miami-Dade County Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477. To report a U.S. international fugitive, call the U.S. Marshals at 1-877-926-8332.


About the Author: