MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Loved ones say three family members were killed Tuesday in a crash on Sunset Drive that was allegedly caused by a drunken driver.
The director of the Creative Learning Center in Miami confirmed that was one of the victims was Karina Diaz, who worked as a teacher for the toddler class. Diaz’s husband and mother were also killed in the collision.
Police later confirmed the identities of the victims as Karina Diaz, 49, Adalberto Cereijo, 51, and Elena Diaz, 75.
“The children came into the classroom with Mrs. Karina and learned the foundation of life. Mrs. Karina accepted those children with every individuality, every difference, every uniqueness that those children possessed,” program administrator Emilu Alvarez said.
The crash occurred just before 6 a.m. Tuesday at the intersection of Sunset Drive and Southwest 92nd Avenue.
According to authorities, a white Range Rover was speeding on the Palmetto Expressway before exiting onto Sunset Drive.
Police said the driver of the Range Rover survived the collision and underwent surgery at Kendall Regional Medical Center.
He has been identified by police as 24-year-old Rodney Rodriguez.
“Alcohol is a factor in this particular situation, and our investigators are also pursuing a DUI component,” Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta said.
A South Miami police officer attempted to pull over the SUV, but the driver of the Range Rover failed to stop before crashing into a Kia sedan with three people inside, authorities said.
Surveillance video obtained by Local 10 News shows the moment the sedan slows down to make a turn from Sunset Drive onto 92nd Avenue. That’s when the speeding SUV heading west crashes into the car.
“What we’ve been told is that once that vehicle failed to stop, that’s when the South Miami officer made a U-turn and just let that vehicle continue to go westbound,” Zabaleta said.
Police said all three people inside the car were killed, one of whom was ejected from the vehicle.
“My son was in the classroom next door and we’re just broken-hearted,” Mariana Hernandez said about Diaz. “She had been teaching here for years. Her daughter teaches here too and we are just so, so sad for the family and for their loss, and we’re just devastated.”
“I ask for prayers for Betty,” Alvarez said. “This was her life. Her mom, her grandmother and her father were in that car.”