Regina Goodrich of Coral Springs, Florida was arrested for her alleged involvement in a fatal Fort Lauderdale hit-and-run crash that killed Miguel Soler.
Goodrich, 25, faces charges for failure to remain at an accident involving death and failure to use due care. She reportedly turned herself in on Thursday and pleaded not guilty. She was released on $70,000 bond and will have to wear an ankle monitor. She was also ordered not to drive or drink alcohol. News sources did not name a defense attorney for Goodrich.
According to the arrest report, the alleged crash occurred at around 6:30 p.m. on July 2 in the 2900 block of East Las Olas Boulevard. Soler, 58, a New Jersey resident, was in Fort Lauderdale on vacation with his family for the Fourth of July weekend.
Soler was driving west on East Las Olas Boulevard when he stopped his car so his wife, Vivian Soler, could take a picture of him posing next to the “Welcome to Fort Lauderdale Beach” sign. As he was getting back into his vehicle, an SUV, also driving west, struck and killed him. The driver fled the scene and did not stop to administer aid. Soler was rushed to Broward Health Medical Center, where he later died.
Investigators found the suspected hit-run SUV in the 300 block of Tarpon Drive, about 10 blocks away from the crash site. The vehicle is a 2009 Ford Escape registered to Goodrich’s father.
During Goodrich’s first court appearance on Thursday, the prosecution said witnesses saw Goodrich drinking with her friends at a bar on Fort Lauderdale beach for hours before the crash. She reportedly discouraged her friends from hiring an Uber and insisted on driving them because she was their designated driver.
Goodrich’s friends told investigators that she refused to stop after the crash and later became very upset and threatened to kill herself. She reportedly deleted two Instagram videos that show her sitting with her friends at a table with a bucket of beer. One of the videos appears to show Goodrich drinking alcohol.
It is unclear if Goodrich’s charges will be upgraded with DUI manslaughter, but it is likely the prosecution will only pursue the fatal hit-and-run charge because it is easier to prove and carries a much harsher penalty. Florida’s legislature toughened penalties for hit-and-run accidents to encourage drivers to remain at the scene of the crash even if they are drunk.
A hit-and-run is committed when a driver is involved in an accident with property damage, injury, or death and willfully leaves the scene of the crash without providing their name, address, registration and driver’s license information to the victim.
Leaving the scene of a fatal accident is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. It carries a much more severe penalty than DUI manslaughter, which is punishable by 15 years in prison.