Van driver arrested after 4 killed, 2 seriously hurt in crash on I-95

Motorists struck while trying to protect motorcyclist injured in crash

By Tim Swift - Local10.com Digital Editor, Ian Margol - Reporter, Madeleine Wright - Reporter

MIAMI - A van driver was arrested Friday after four good Samaritans were killed and two others were seriously injured in an early-morning multivehicle crash on Interstate 95 in Miami.

Lionel Orrego, 42, faces a number of charges, including four counts of manslaughter while driving under the influence and resisting arrest.

The good Samaritans were on the shoulder, coming to the aid of the victim of an earlier motorcycle crash when they were struck and killed in a series of collisions caused by Orrego's van, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

The victims who died were identified as Alina Ghani, 21, Randy Benjamin, 38, John Garzon, 25, and Meryl Diaz, 27. 

Matthew Gutierrez, 22, and James Isadore, 38, were seriously injured and taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital where they are listed in critical condition.

Miami Department of Fire-Rescue spokesman Capt. Ignatius Carroll said rescuers received a phone call about 1 a.m. Friday from a woman saying a motorcyclist had been involved in a crash.

"According to the witnesses, the motorcycle, for whatever reason, either lost control or collided with a vehicle," Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joe Sanchez said.

Carroll said several people stopped to help the motorcyclist, using their vehicles to stop him from being struck.

"Hopefully everybody pays attention, you know? We deal with a lot of bad driving and crazy people. I guess it's the life we live, you know?" a friend of the victims said.

All northbound lanes of I-95 were shut down near Northwest 62nd Street for seven hours while authorities worked to clear the scene. The lanes reopened shortly before 8 a.m.

"This is a testimony of how dangerous the highways are, even at nighttime, and also looking at the conditions; whether it was raining, whether the streets were wet," Carroll said.

Among the vehicles that were towed from the scene were Orrego's van, a black Ford Mustang, a white Toyota 4Runner, an FHP cruiser, the Suzuki motorcycle and a red Honda Accord. 

Authorities transferred Orrego to Miami-Dade County's Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center after he was released from a hospital this afternoon. He being held on more than $120,000 bond.

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