Surit Garcias, 30, faces several charges, including DUI causing death and vehicular homicide. He is being held without bond in Broward’s main jail. It is unclear if he has acquired the services of an attorney.
According to the arrest report released by Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), the alleged DUI crash occurred at around 5:30 p.m. on March 6 near the Mile Market 41 on Alligator Alley. Surit Garcia was reportedly driving a Ford pickup truck when he swerved out of his lane and struck the side of a van carrying 15 passengers, sending both vehicles off the road.
“There was a van with 15 people onboard was traveling eastbound on I-75 in the left lane. We have a black pickup truck traveling behind it, the pickup truck hit the van from the rear, caused the driver to lose control,” FHP Lt. Alvaro Feola told the press.
The van, carrying passengers from Minnesota, rolled over multiple times and ejected at least one person. Lauren Vanreese, 21, was killed in the crash. The other passengers suffered serious injuries. They were identified as Steven Wienhold, 42, who was the driver; Laura Wienhold, 43; Brynn Wienhold, 12; Blake Wienhold, 10; Brook Wienhold, 4; Mark Steuart, 68; Barbara Steuart, 69; Rachel Kerr, 45; Justin Kerr, 14; Ryan Kerr, 11; Paul White, 49; Kimberly Vanreese, 50; Katie Topitshoper, 19; and Gabriella Rooney, 19.
Witnesses saw Surit Garcia driving recklessly and nearly crashes accidents on the highway, the report said. The witnesses also reportedly told FHP that Surit Garcia was “impaired and smelling of alcoholic beverage.”
A trooper met Surit Garcia at the hospital, where he was being treated for minor injuries. Upon realizing that Surit Garcia only spoke Spanish, the trooper called for backup.
“While waiting for [backup] to arrive, I was able to observe that his speech was slurred/mumbled, his eyes were heavily bloodshot and watery and there was a distinct and strong smell of alcoholic beverage coming from his as he spoke to me,” the trooper wrote in the report.
Surit Garcia allegedly agreed to give a blood sample at the hospital. His blood alcohol level was .182, which is more than twice the legal limit for the state of Florida.
“Furthermore, I was advised that his medical blood was tested for ethanol and had a reading of .182 at the time they drew it and it was tested,” the trooper wrote.
After he was cleared by medical staff, he was asked to perform a series of field sobriety exercises, which he failed, according to the report.
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