Teen enters not guilty plea after facing charges in Miami-Dade crash killing 4

MIAMI – A teenager who surrendered to Florida Highway Patrol troopers on Monday and is facing charges in a New Year’s Day car crash that killed four people will have to remain behind bars.

On Tuesday, Maria Diaz, a court interpreter, helped Yenicet Garcia as she watched her son’s virtual hearing. He is accused of killing Yuhlia Gelats-Medina, Christian Mobil, Andres Zacarias, and Jender Salazar.

Yenicet Garcia watched as Brian Kirlew, 16-year-old Alex Garcia’s criminal defense attorney, asked Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dawn Denaro for his supervised release.

“We are entering a plea of not guilty. We have absolutely zero facts, zero evidence, so our position is he is not guilty,” Kirlew said on Tuesday.

Denaro denied Kirlew’s request and ordered Alex Garcia’s secure detention until April 19th when he will have his next hearing.

The teen with a learner’s permit was driving a Chevy Tahoe at 111.2 mph — after using alcohol and marijuana — when he crashed about 4 a.m. into a Hyundai Elantra, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

A Chevy Tahoe and a Hyundai Elantra collided on New Year's Day at the intersection of Southwest 79th Avenue and Flagler in Miami-Dade County. (Copyright 2021 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.)

“The defendant was driving at such a high rate of speed and failed to slow down, as required by flashing yellow lights,” said Lt. Alex Camacho, a spokesman for FHP.

The impact at the intersection of Southwest 79th Avenue and Flagler Street killed Gelats-Medina, 21, the driver of the Hyundai, and three passengers, according to Camacho.

The Hyundai Elantra’s passengers were Gelats-Medina’s boyfriend Mobil, 22, and their friends Zacarias, 21, and Salazar, 21, according to Camacho.

From left, Yuhlia Gelats-Medina, 21, Christian Mobil, 22, Andres Zacarias, 21, and Jender Salazar, 21, died in a car crash on New Year's Day in Miami-Dade County. (Courtesy of the Gelats-Medina family)

Alex Garcia and the two 16-year-old passengers in the Chevy Tahoe survived their injuries.

Gelats-Medina, a Florida International University student, was the designated driver on the morning of the crash, and the tests showed she was sober when she was killed, according to Camacho.

Alex Garcia is facing four counts of reckless vehicular homicide, four counts of DUI manslaughter, and two counts of DUI with serious bodily injury. It is still uncertain if he will be charged as an adult.


About the Authors:

Andrew Perez is a South Florida native who joined the Local 10 News team in May 2014.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.