|Alberto de Jesús Coterón Oliva|
A Miami tragedy...three young lives full of promise, gone in a flash. Enrique Flor and Melissa Sanchez of El Nuevo Herald reported the story for Tuesday's paper which was picked up by the Miami Herald.
Three teens die in apparent drag-racing crashWhy was Coterón on the road? Was he, once again, driving with a suspended license?
It was going to be a night of celebration before the first day of school on Monday.
The teens arrived at the Dolphin Mall Saturday afternoon. Friends gave Verónica Santiago, 17, and Isis Maciel Jiménez, 15, a ride there. The father of Daniel Cárdenas, 17, took him there thinking that the boy deserved a fun night. Alberto de Jesús Coterón Oliva, 19, arrived in his 1994 Honda Civic.
The four teenagers knew each other through friends, Facebook and frequent Friday-night outings to a skating rink in Kendall and dancing at the Dolphin Mall. Santiago and Cárdenas were sweethearts, as were Jiménez and Coterón.
That night, while their parents waited for them at home, the teens decided to leave the mall and go for a ride in Coterón’s Civic. Jiménez was riding on the passenger side. Santiago and Cárdenas were in the back seat.
Before 11 p.m., Coterón began racing against a black Infiniti near Northwest 12th Street and 99th Avenue. Witnesses told Miami-Dade County police that the cars were going at a high speed. At a curve, Coterón lost control. The Civic bumped over the curb and crashed into a light post, breaking in two, according to the police report. Three passengers died instantly. Coterón, who suffered cuts and bruises, ran away, police said.
It took hours for their families to learn of the accident.
Of Coterón's driving record, the Herald story says, "he has been fined 16 times for traffic violations, including driving without a license, driving with a suspended license and driving a noisy exhaust pipe."
But a closer inspection of his record shows that since 2007 he's been cited 7 times for having no drivers license or knowingly driving while his license was suspended. (see charts below.)
Perhaps, in time, we'll get some clear answers as to why he was allowed to continue to drive.
But, for three families and hundreds of friends and classmates, those answers will be too little, too late.