Driver arrested following wrong-way crash on Palmetto Expressway that killed 5 people

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A 30-year-old man has been arrested on five counts of vehicular homicide after he drove the wrong way on the Palmetto Expressway early Saturday morning and crashed his car into another vehicle, killing the five people inside, authorities confirmed Tuesday.

Maiky Simeon is currently still hospitalized while being monitored by law enforcement officials.

Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Alex Camacho said if it’s determined that Simeon was impaired at the time of the crash, he will face additional charges.

Troopers say there were four women and one man inside the car that was hit -- all between the ages of 18 and 25.

Family members identified one of the victims as Briana Pacalagua.

GoFundMe accounts have been set up for the families of Pacalagua, Daniela Marcano, Valeria Peña, Giancarlos Arias and Valeria Caceres.

The crash happened in the westbound lanes of the Palmetto Expressway near Northwest 57th Avenue.

Several victims have been identified following a fatal crash on the Palmetto Expressway.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a silver Infiniti heading the wrong way crashed into a Honda that was carrying the five victims around 4:30 a.m. Saturday.

Their distraught family members later gathered at the crash site, leaving behind flowers and balloons.

Pacalagua’s grandmother, Clara Cortes, spoke to Local 10 News’ Andrew Perez, saying through tears that she remembered one of the last times she saw her 19-year-old granddaughter.

She said she was given roses and a hug.

Karen Laverd knew the victims and told Local 10 News that she had been texting one of them earlier that day.

“She texted me that day, earlier, but you know, I couldn’t go out that night,” Laverd said.

She says she drives on the Palmetto frequently and is devastated over the tragic loss.

“I don’t know, and I ask God why he did that -- driving the other way -- I just hope, you know, I give my blessings and my strength to the family,” Laverd said.

Video shows the driver being pulled from the Infiniti and airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center with serious injuries.

Troopers are now asking the public to come forward with any information about his whereabouts leading up to the crash.

Records show Simeon had a speeding ticket from Collier County in 2014. In that incident, authorities said he was driving 109 mph in a 70 mph zone.

Since then, his driver’s license was suspended, but eventually reinstated.

Records also show a slew of traffic violations for Simeon in Miami-Dade County.

But according to the FHP, he did have a valid driver’s license at the time of the crash.

So far, troopers have not disclosed what factors may have caused Simeon to drive the wrong way, but they say their investigation is ongoing.

About the Authors:

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.

Bridgette Matter joined the Local 10 News team as a reporter in July 2021. Before moving to South Florida, she began her career in South Bend, Indiana and spent six years in Jacksonville as a reporter and weekend anchor.