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Driver who police say hit 16-year-old tried to cover up crime, but car tells story, investigators say

Suspect in teen girl's hit and run death appears before judge
Suspect in teen girl's hit and run death appears before judge

MIAMI, Fla. – Police combing the area where a 16-year-old was struck and killed were able to spot a silver Toyota Corolla parked only a mile away from where the hit and run happened and they say the man who was driving the car attempted to cover up the crash.

According to Miami police, a sergeant from the North Bay Village Police Department spotted the vehicle on Tuesday around 12:30 p.m. parked in the 7800 block of NE Bayshore Court. Last Saturday, Dayana “Diani” Gomez Sanchez went for a jog along the causeway early in the morning and never returned.

Investigator said Jose Fimia, 60, was driving the car that hit the girl, but Fimia didn’t stay at the scene, instead taking off. He was arrested Friday and faces charges of driving with a suspended license, along with vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of a crash, and tampering with physical evidence.

Fimia appeared in front of a Miami-Dade Circuit Judge on Saturday. Bond was set at $400,000. Should he be able to make bond, a judge has ordered him to wear an ankle monitor and he will be placed under house arrest.

Due to a prior warrant, there could be a longer delay in Fimia bonding out, Local 10 News has learned.

The bond hearing took place on the same day that Sanchez’s family laid her to rest.

“She just started high school,” said Sanchez’s cousin Christine Gomez. “She was just starting life.”

According to investigators a witness called 911 on Saturday, May 15, around 8:43 a.m. to report that a silver vehicle had struck a person, then fled westbound on Northeast 79th Street.

Police had originally suspected that Gomez Sanchez may have been abducted and murdered, but by Monday afternoon they had determined she had been struck car that fled.

Police searched the area on Saturday after her mother reported her missing around 8:30 p.m., but did not find the body. Instead, Dennis Gomez found his niece dead on Sunday around 5 p.m. after he and other family members had been searching for her up and down Northeast 79th Street. They recognized her running shoes and her phone along the sidewalk and found her body within bushes near the Pelican Harbour boat ramp.

Investigators arriving to check out the car on Tuesday said the damages on the Corolla were consistent with the hit and run. According to the report, there was a “donut (spare) on the right front and all hubcaps were missing.” There were also several strands of blue hair dye that were embedded in the windshield and on the passenger side mirror. Investigators said those were consistent with the victim’s hair color.

A witness from the area where the car was located said they had seen the car on Friday and could not recall any damage, but on Sunday around 1 a.m. they saw the car parked in the back of the building next to a dumpster with a damaged windshield, a broken headlight and a front tire that was flat.

They then noticed around 10 a.m. that the car had been moved to a different spot and it appeared to have been cleaned. Surveillance video and other interviews were also part of the investigation, according to police.

Gomez Sanchez’s family heard the news of the arrest as they were preparing for her viewing late Friday.

The victim’s uncle, Elvin Gomez, wanted Fimia to know: “You broke my family. You killed my niece. I think you are a criminal and not a human.”

Despite the arrest, the family says nothing will bring their loved one back.

“You will be my nightmare for the rest of my life,” Gomez said.


About the Authors:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.

Trent Kelly is an award-winning multimedia journalist who joined the Local 10 News team in June 2018. Trent is no stranger to Florida. Born in Tampa, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he graduated with honors from the UF College of Journalism and Communications.