Edwin Santana of Miramar and his four passengers, Maria Rosario Cedeno of Miami; Gloria Santana and Sonia Elena Melendez of Pembroke Pines; and Olga Melania Nunez of Miramar, where killed in a three-car accident in Bunnell, Flagler County.
According to news sources, the crash occurred off U.S. 1 near the city of Bunnell on the morning of February 5. Santana, 58, was driving a Mazda Tribute with four passengers on board and as he was making a left turn from Old Dixie Highway, he drove into the path of a Ford pickup truck that struck his vehicle on the driver’s side.
The impact pushed both cars into the path of a third car, a Toyota Camry, and damaged its front side. Santana and all his passengers were killed. The driver of the Ford, whose name has not been released, was not injured, but his two passengers—including a 4-year-old girl—suffered minor injuries. The driver of the Camry also suffered minor injuries.
Another fatal car crash was reported in Broward County on February 3. Michael Powell of Lauderdale Lakes, Florida was killed by a hit-and-run driver as he was crossing from north to south on West Broward Boulevard. The driver never stopped to render aid.
According to the police report, Powell, 67, was struck by a dark blue BMW sedan. Sunrise police reportedly found a vehicle matching the description two hours after the crash in the 2500 block of NW 89th Avenue.
The deputies gave custody of the vehicle and its two occupants to Fort Lauderdale police. The names of the occupants have not been released. Investigators are still not sure what was the cause of the crash, but they are purportedly exploring the possibility of alcohol or other substances playing a role.
According to Florida Highway Patrol, the number of hit-and-run crashes in Florida has remained steady over the years. 92,000 such crashes were reported in 2015. Over 80 percent of these crashes usually only result in property damage, but 180 people lost their lives to hit-and-run drivers in 2015.
Accidents like the one that killed Santana and his four passengers appear to be on the rise in Florida. Statistics from The National Safety Council show that nearly 1,600 people died in traffic crashes during the first half of 2016. That’s a 43 percent increase compared to the same period in 2014.
Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Kenn Watson told news sources that a number of factors are to blame for the rising figures, including Florida’s tourist attractions that bring in people from all over the world, distractions like smartphones, and the overreliance of advanced car technologies like lane-change sensors and backup cameras.