Wrongful death suit filed by widow of bicyclist killed on Rickenbacker Causeway

Police: Alejandro Alvarez, 21, struck 2 cyclists after night of drinking in Miami Beach

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor, MJ Acosta - Reporter

MIAMI - The widow of a bicyclist killed on the Rickenbacker Causeway on Jan. 21 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the alleged driver, Alejandro Alvarez, 21, and his father, Rodrigo Alvarez.

At a news conference Friday, Maribel Reyes said she wanted to prevent another tragedy from happening and spoke about how her life has changed.

"Everything is just kind of on standby," she said. "For a while it was just hard to keep going, but I have two daughters and I have a life and now I have a message. And I'm going to do it. And my husband would want this to happen if he were alive. If there's anything that comes out of this that can save somebody's life, I'm going to do it."

According to Miami-Dade police, Alvarez was driving a 2014 Volkswagen Jetta, registered in his father's name, when the car drifted into the bicycle lane after he had been drinking that night at a club on Miami Beach.

Walter Reyes, 59, and Henry Hernandez, 40, were riding their bicycles when they were struck by the car. Police said Alvarez then fled the scene.

Reyes' daughter, Jennifer Reyes, also spoke at the news conference. She and her mother were wearing necklaces with bicycle charms on them in remembrance of their relative.

"The one thing I want more than anything is to know that if my sister decides to ride the bridge, or if I decide to go, or anybody, that they're not going to go through the exact same thing that's happening to us," said Jennifer Reyes.

Walter Reyes died in the crash while Hernandez suffered serious injuries.

According to the arrest report, Alvarez returned to the scene about 20 minutes later.

"It was me," Alvarez told police as he got out of the car, according to the report. "I was the one that was involved in the accident. I was scared and I fled. I drove down to Harbor Drive, parked my vehicle and called my mother."

An officer noticed a strong smell of an alcoholic beverage emanating from Alvarez's breath, bloodshot watery eyes, slurred speech and that Alvarez was "hysterically crying," the report said.

Alvarez told police he was out with friends at a club in Miami Beach. He had left about 2:45 a.m. to take his friends home and returned to the club by himself.

About 4:30 a.m., Alvarez left the club and drove to his parents' home in Key Biscayne. Alvarez told police as he drove through the curve on Crandon Boulevard, he was changing a song on his iPhone that was connected to the car and looked away from the roadway, the report said.

Alvarez told police he struck the bicyclists and kept driving, the report said.

Once he arrived home, Alvarez attempted to fake a robbery by smashing the rear window of the Volkswagen with golf clubs from his parents' home, police said. Alvarez told police he couldn't do it and called 911, telling them that he had just struck a pedestrian and wanted to know if he should return to the scene, the report said. Police said he was instructed to do so and turn himself in to police.

Reyes is the third cyclist to be killed in a hit-and-run crash on the Rickenbacker Causeway in five years.

His family said he was training for the Dolphins Cycling Challenge to help raise money for advancements in cancer research when he was killed.

Alvarez's criminal trial is set for May 26.

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