The widow of a man killed in a hit-and-run accident in South Florida has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the alleged driver and his father, in whose name the car was registered.
Walter Reyes and Henry Hernandez were bicycling on the Rickenbacker Causeway when they were struck by the Volkswagen Jetta driven by Alejandro Alvarez. Reyes died as a result of the accident, and Hernandez is now confined to a wheelchair.
According to the police report, Alvarez had been drinking at a Miami Beach club. He left around 4:30 in the morning to go home, and was looking down to change a song on his phone when he hit the cyclists. Alvarez continued driving, but later smashed the Volkswagen’s windows with golf clubs in an attempt to fake a robbery. He then called 911 and told police he had struck a pedestrian, asking if he should return to the scene.
“This is an unfortunate death that could have easily been prevented if the drunk driver had not been behind the wheel of the car,” says Ramin Soofer, Injury/Trial Lawyer, Soofer Law Group. “Some courts now allow the surviving heirs of the deceased to collect punitive damages for the conduct of the drunk driver for getting behind the wheel drunk and also for not stopping at the scene and rendering aid and instead fleeing.”
Maribel Reyes is working with Patty Cohen, the widow of another cyclist who was killed riding his bike on the same causeway in 2012. Reyes and Cohen are urging the community to prevent drunk driving and hit-and-run car and bike accidents. They encourage anyone who has been drinking to call a taxi or ask a friend for a ride.
The death of Patty Cohen’s husband Aaron led to the passing of the Aaron Cohen act, which raised the minimum sentence of drivers who leave the scene of a fatal DUI accident from two years to four. Alvarez is currently out on bond, though he has been fitted with an ankle monitoring device. Alvarez’s trial is scheduled for May 26th. If convicted, he faces up to 50 years in prison.
In the past five years, two other cyclists have died as a result of car and bike accidents on the Rickenbacker Causeway.