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Operator of forklift arrested after driver killed in crash

Police say Ulises Mondragon Umanzor drove away, didn't have valid license

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A West Palm Beach man has been arrested after another man's Sunday morning drive in a convertible Mercedes-Benz ended in a fatal crash with a forklift in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Ulises Mondragon Umanzor, 30, was arrested on charges of leaving the scene of a fatal crash, driving without a license and failure to stop at a stop sign.

A black Mercedes-Benz convertible was traveling south on Seabreeze Boulevard approaching Poinsettia Street when it crashed into a forklift being driven to a nearby construction site.

Police said the driver of the convertible was struck by the forks as they protruded out onto Seabreeze Boulevard. 

The driver, later identified as James Zakos, was take to Broward Health Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Witnesses said the operator of the forklift, identified by police as Mondragon Umanzor, drove away after the crash and headed toward the construction site where he was working.

"The construction worker first backed up the forklift (after the accident) and drove through the intersection to the staging area," a witness said. "It was only because other people who watched the accident went to go get him." 

A police probable cause affidavit shows that Mondragon Umanzor had a suspended driver's license and didn't have a license to operate heavy machinery.

"We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this time," a spokeswoman from Southeast Skanska USA Inc., the construction company that subcontracted Mondragon Umanzor, said. "An investigation led by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department is underway, and we are fully cooperating with authorities."

Southeast Skanska USA Inc. is conducting its own investigation of the crash, the company said.

The intersection is known among residents as a very dangerous intersection with multiple crashes.

"We’ve literally begged the city to do something about this," a witness added.