Police: Sunrise woman over 2x legal limit before killing woman walking with husband

Briana Russell, 26, spent night clubbing before deadly crash, police say

SUNRISE, Fla. – A Sunrise woman was driving with a blood alcohol content of more than twice the legal limit before killing a woman walking with her husband on a sidewalk, according to the city’s police department.

Now, more than two months after the deadly March 6 crash, 26-year-old Briana Nakuisha Christine Russell faces a dozen criminal charges. Sunrise police arrested her Thursday.

The crash happened at around 6 a.m. along northbound University Drive near Oakland Park Boulevard.

According to investigators, driving a 2019 Toyota Corolla, Russell hit a light pole and then the two pedestrians, a man and a woman, as they were walking on the sidewalk, killing the woman and injuring the man.

Authorities did not release their names, but said the 68-year-old man and 58-year-old woman were husband and wife.

According to an arrest report, before the crash, Russell and a man spent the night clubbing in Fort Lauderdale’s upscale Las Olas neighborhood before heading back to Sunrise.

The man told investigators the fatal crash wasn’t Russell’s first of the night. He said as they headed home, he remembered her “driving recklessly” and “onto a sidewalk before hitting a sign,” then pulling into a nearby Popeyes, where he fell asleep, police said.

Afterward, he said he woke up and asked Russell if she was OK to drive, which she answered yes “with confidence,” according to the report.

According to the report, Russell’s confidence was misplaced. She was not OK to drive, police said — and the consequences were deadly.

The man told investigators that he fell back asleep and woke up after Russell hit the woman and her husband, the report states, telling detectives that he thought Russell had also fallen asleep.

When detectives spoke to Russell, she admitted to drinking and corrected them about the first crash, saying she sideswiped another car rather than a sign, the report states. She said she was lost at the time, police said.

Russell said she continued driving and had her GPS in hand, heading back home, when she claimed she swerved to avoid hitting the pedestrians and struck the light pole, according to the report.

Police said she changed her story somewhat, claiming the pedestrians had stepped off the sidewalk before the crash.

“When I asked (Russell) what the pedestrians did when they saw her coming, she told me since it all happened so fast, she couldn’t remember,” Officer Humberto Rivas wrote in the report, saying Russell said she didn’t remember hitting the pair.

Russell estimated she was driving 45 to 50 mph at the time of the crash, Rivas wrote.

According to police, a toxicology report showed that Russell had a blood alcohol content of 0.197%, more than twice the legal limit.

She was being held in the Broward Main Jail on charges including DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, DUI causing serious bodily injury and reckless driving causing serious bodily injury.

Russell’s bond was set at $120,000 and she was ordered not to drive and to wear an ankle monitor if released.

About the Authors:

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

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.