Juan Calero of Hialeah is being charged for his involvement in the 2015 crash that killed high school graduate Liza Angulo of Miramar and third-year medical student Jonathan Raymond Astaphan.
Calero, 45, was reportedly operating a flatbed truck carrying unsecured concrete barriers when he made a wrong turn on I-75, causing a chain reaction of crashes that led to the death of Angulo, 17, and Astaphan, 29.
He is being charged with one count of reckless driving causing serious bodily injury and two counts of vehicular homicide. He was ordered held on a $150,000 bond by Judge Jill Levy during a magistrate hearing on Wednesday. If he posts bail before trail, he must wear a GPS monitor and cannot take drugs or alcohol or drive a commercial vehicle. He must also surrender his passport.
According to the police report, the crash occurred on May 28, 2015, on Interstate 75 near the southbound Pembroke Pines exit. Calero was driving a flatbed trailer carrying a load of concrete barriers when he made an improper turn west across four lanes.
The maneuver caused Astaphan, who was driving a Mitsubishi Lancer, to crash into the flatbed, shearing off the top of his car and instantly killing him. Angulo, who was driving a BMW 328i, tried to avoid the flatbed but it struck the right side of her vehicle and the concrete barriers it was carrying fell on her car and killed her.
The crash scattered concrete barriers on the highway and Eduardo Hernandez-Rodriguez, who was driving a truck, drove into them before hitting the flatbed. He was not injured in the collision. Astaphan reportedly had a passenger, Patrissia Rolle, who suffered injuries to her head and spine. She was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital for treatment.
Investigators spent almost two years gathering evidence to build a case before arresting Calero this week. Florida Highway Patrol concluded that his actions caused Astaphan to drive into the truck and Angulo and Hernandez-Rodriguez “were unable to avoid the crash.”
Calero’s defense counsel called the incident “a tragic accident” and argued that it was not an intentional act on the part of his client. Calero purportedly cooperated with investigators and was found to have no alcohol or drugs in his system at the time of the accident.
In addition to the criminal case, Calero is also reportedly being sued in civil court along with transportation entities involved in the crash by the families of Astaphan and Angulo. Rolle also filed a civil lawsuit that was settled for an undisclosed amount.
A driver is charged with vehicular manslaughter when they unintentionally cause an accident that results in the death of passengers, other drivers, or pedestrians. The charge is appropriate if the driver was under the influence or driving recklessly.
Under Florida law, vehicular manslaughter is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The charge can be enhanced to a first-degree felony if the defendant failed to render aid or give information after the crash.