Heartbroken father speaks after arrest in Opa-locka crash that killed son, unborn grandchild

A 59-year-old man is facing two counts of vehicular homicide in connection with an Aug. 5 crash on State Road 9 in Opa-locka that left one man dead and a pregnant woman seriously injured.

OPA-LOCKA, Fla. – A 59-year-old man is facing two counts of vehicular homicide in connection with an Aug. 5 crash on State Road 9 in Opa-locka that left one man dead and a pregnant woman seriously injured.

The force of the crash caused the woman to give birth to a stillborn 6-month-old fetus a few days after the crash, according to an arrest report filed by the Florida Highway Patrol and prosecutors. Prosecutors said her placenta had detached.

According to troopers investigating the crash, Lazaro Fernandez was speeding down State Road 9 in his red 1999 Ford pickup truck headed west, when he tried to pass another vehicle in the inside shoulder and lost control, striking bushes in the median and landing airborne into the eastbound lanes, striking the passenger’s side of a red 2017 Chevrolet Cruze.

The passenger, Leandro Rodriguez, 26, was killed instantly, according to the report.

Doug Rodriguez, the victim’s father, said his son had two children. His pregnant girlfriend, Angelica Vega, who was behind the wheel, was seriously hurt in the crash. Their stillborn son was named Elias Leandro Rodriguez.

“It’s been very difficult,” Doug Rodriguez told Local 10 News Wednesday. “(Leandro) had begun his career as a barber. He was a 26 year old dad and he tried hard.”

Rodriguez recounted the moment he learned about the crash.

“I got a phone call at work and got into a car, picked up my wife and other son and we drove to Miami immediately,” he said.

Fernandez, who resides in Opa-locka, was not wearing a seat belt at the time and was ejected from his pickup, troopers wrote. Both he and the Vega were airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center.

Vega, aside from losing the couple’s baby, needed surgery for a broken arm and ankle requiring “multiple pins, plates and screws,” the report states.

Troopers arrested Fernandez Tuesday upon his discharge from the hospital. He appeared in Miami-Dade court Wednesday.

In bond court, prosecutors said Fernandez’s license had been suspended due to a cocaine possession conviction.

Miami-Dade Judge Mindy Glazer followed prosecutors’ recommendations and gave Fernandez a $150,000 bond plus “total lockdown” house arrest.

Glazer ordered that Fernandez not drive any vehicle.

Doug Rodriguez has now set up a GoFundMe page to help fund Leandro’s children’s education.

“Leandro may be gone from our sight, but never from our hearts,” he wrote.

Speaking to Local 10 News, Rodriguez thanked the community for its support.


About the Authors:

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.

Chris Gothner joined the Local 10 News team in 2022 as a Digital Journalist.