DUI suspect who survived crash killing 3 has suspended license, checkered traffic record

MIAMI – A 24-year-old drunk driving suspect who was at the Kendall Regional Medical Center on Wednesday had a suspended license when he was involved in a crash that killed a teacher, her mother, and her husband in Miami-Dade County.

Records show a Miami-Dade County Circuit judge suspended Rodney Rodriguez’s license in July after he failed to show up to court. Rodriguez was accused of running a red light in May and of driving on the wrong side of the road in April.

In 2019, Rodriguez was arrested for marijuana possession and prosecutors dropped the case. In 2017, Rodriguez was accused of careless driving in August and of driving too fast for conditions in May.

“Nothing good ever comes from getting behind the wheel when you are impaired,” said Sally Matson, a victims’ advocate with the Miami chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. She added, “There must’ve been an attitude that accompanied the impairment that driving is a right for him and not a privilege and he wasn’t thinking of his community.”

Officers identified the victims as Karina Diaz, 49; her 51-year-old husband, Adalberto Cereijo; and her 75-year-old mother, Elena Diaz. Diaz, 49, was a teacher at The Creative Learning Center in The Crossings.

Rodriguez was driving a white Range Rover when he shouldn’t have been. He exited the Palmetto Expressway at Southwest 72nd Street, better known as Sunset Drive, when an officer reported he was speeding.

The officer with the South Miami Police Department attempted a traffic stop, police said. Rodriguez continued to speed, the officer followed and while out of the jurisdiction decided to return to South Miami, according to the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Rodriguez continued traveling westbound on Sunset Drive. Just west of the Don Shula Expressway, after the train tracks, the Kia turned northbound from the eastbound lanes of Sunset Drive at Southwest 92nd Avenue.

Rodriguez didn’t stop. The Range Rover T-boned the Kia. After the impact, the driver of the Kia was ejected; the two passengers died inside, police said.

“It didn’t have to happen,” Matson said. “It’s a 100% preventable crime.”

About the Authors:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.

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.