NORTH BAY VILLAGE, Fla. – First responders rushed to the scene of a deadly hit-and-run crash Monday night in North Bay Village that killed three people. As of Wednesday afternoon, police were still searching for a person of interest in the case.
One witness told Local 10 News reporter Bridgette Matter that a black car with no headlights on was going upwards of 90 mph before striking an SUV, which burst into flames.
It happened just off the John F. Kennedy Memorial Causeway at the entrance of Harbor Island.
Dashcam video shows the moments before the impact.
The witness stops at a red light before a gray car is seen heading east on the causeway before it starts to make a left onto Harbor Island Drive.
That’s when a black car heading west slams into it. Quickly after that, you see an explosion and the SUV engulfed in flames.
“Oh my God, that poor person,” one witness said.
Police confirmed two people were pronounced dead at the scene. A third person was pulled out of the vehicle by officers and was transported to a hospital in critical condition. That person later died at the hospital, police confirmed Tuesday afternoon.
Tuesday evening’s report:
Sources tell Local 10 News that the three victims were a mother and her two daughters.
“Police were trying to get in there without getting hurt -- doing it as safe as possible,” Toby Castillo, who lives nearby, said. “I’ve never seen the street lit up like that before. I mean, there’s been other crazy accidents on this street but not as bad as this one … it was pretty much an explosion.”
A man who lives nearby said the suspect knocked on his door begging for help and a place to hide following the crash.
“He goes ‘I need help. I got money. I got a nine inch chain and I got a thousand dollars. Help me out, help me out,’” Brandon Menard said.
Menard didn’t open the door and said the suspect should “turn himself in.”
Miami-Dade police are now investigating the crash. City officials confirmed that the driver fled the scene.
Late Tuesday afternoon, police identified a person of interest in the case. Julius Bernstein, 24, is wanted for questioning in connection to the crash. (see poster below)
Miami-Dade Police are looking for this man in connection to the fatal hit and run that occurred last night in North Bay Village. If you have any information on his whereabouts, please contact the MDPD Traffic Homicide Unit at (305) 471-2425. pic.twitter.com/56dk6NXxNR— North Bay Village Government (@NorthBayVillage) June 28, 2022
Court records show that Bernstein has a lengthy criminal past, including at least three charges of fleeing an officer, and was on probation until 2023 at the time of the crash.
Anyone with information on Bernstein’s whereabouts is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.