Albertson Anthony Almase, Kristina Almase, Dennis Ryan Rinon Ortiz, and Lily Marie Azarcon of Miami, Florida were killed in a head-on collision on Wednesday, news sources report. Willie Dumel, 25, was driving on the wrong side of I-95 during the time of the crash. He has since been arrested and charged with four counts of vehicular manslaughter. The victims were all pronounced dead at the scene; Dumel sustained two broken legs. Police are currently conducting an investigation and it appears an officer may have violated the law by pursuing Dumel along the opposing lanes. It remains to be seen whether any survivors of the deceased will file for damages.
According to reports, Ortiz was visiting Florida from California and Azarcon was visiting from Manila in the Philippines. Azarcon was visiting the United States on a business trip and was in Miami on Wednesday to watch a basketball gamer. Her co-worker, Ortiz, was an international sales director for Alveo Land Corporation, which is based out of the Philippines.
Anthony Almase and Kristina Almase were both Fort Lauderdale natives. Anthony Almase was serving as an officer 2nd Class in the U.S. Navy and had been stationed in San Diego. His sister, Kristina Almase, had just moved to South Florida from the Philippines and was raising her 2-year-old daughter. All four of the victims were traveling together in a minivan at the time of the accident.
Minutes before the fatal collision, police were attempting to pull Dumel over. Dumel led the police on a chase off the I-95 exit ramp, onto Ives Dairy Road and then back onto I-95. At some point during the chase, Dumel drove up and exit ramp and steered through oncoming traffic. The chase was officially called off at that point, but sources now indicate that officer Sergio Perez may have pursued Dumel onto the wrong side of the highway.
Police regulations strictly prohibit officers from following suspects when they go against the flow of traffic, as such chases are incredibly dangerous. A transcript of police radio that day recorded Perez as saying, “This guy [Dumel] is all over the road. Now he’s going against traffic on I-95. We’re going northbound in the southbound lanes.”
An Opa-locka City spokesperson released a statement denying that Perez followed Dumel into opposing traffic, saying, “[Perez] cut off the pursuit and did not follow northbound the wrong way.” The department has since placed Perez on administrative leave while they investigate the allegations. Perez was involved in a high-speed crash shortly before he became an officer, sources say.
Dumel was traveling in the wrong lanes when his SUV collided head-on with the victims’ minivan. Reports say Dumel sustained two broken legs in the crash, but that he should make a full recovery. The four victims died in the collision. While reports were unable to say whether the victims were wearing their seatbelts, a Miami-Dade Medical Examiner spokesperson said, “In high-velocity crashes, no matter what safety features there are, you won’t be able to preserve life.” No information on memorial services was available at press time.
Source: 4.7.13 Miami Collision.pdf.