NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) – A grieving community is paying tribute to the five friends who, authorities said, lost their lives after their car was struck by a driver who was going against traffic on the Palmetto Expressway in Northwest Miami-Dade, and records show this wasn’t the motorist’s first run-in with the law.
Mourners have set up a growing makeshift memorial against a chain-link fence near the entrance ramp at Northwest 57th Avenue, feet from where, investigators said, 30-year-old Maiky Simeon slammed head-on into the Honda sedan where the victims were riding, at around 4:30 a.m., Saturday.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the four women and one man inside the Honda were killed instantly. They were all young, ranging in age between 18 and 25 years old.
First responders used the Jaws of Life to extricate Simeon. He was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center, where he is listed in critical condition.
7News has learned the driver accused of traveling against traffic wasn’t even supposed to be behind the wheel.
According to the Clerk of Courts’ website, Simeon was cited in 2014 for driving 109 miles an hour on Interstate 75 in Collier County. His license was suspended at the time after failing to appear and for not paying the $600 fee.
Simeon also has a long list of traffic infractions in Miami-Dade County, including tickets for driving without a license.
Simeon’s driving record only adds to the pain that the victims’ family are experiencing as they make funeral arrangements.
The sister of victim Briana Pacalagua said she was the one driving the car. In a GoFundMe page set up to help with expenses, Pacalagua’s sister wrote, “She was always so careful on the road. But nothing could’ve prepared her or anyone for what happened … There are no words to describe how our family can cope with this loss. I love you so so much.”
The sister of another victim, identified by loved ones as Valeria C., wrote, “She was so young and full of life and loved by so many.”
A third victim, Daniela Marcano, had just turned 19 a couple of weeks ago. Her family wrote: “She was loved by many people. She always had a smile on her face even when times were rough, and she’ll put a smile on everyone’s face that surrounded her.”
Family members of a fourth victim, Valeria Pena, wrote the group of friends “lost their lives due to a tragic accident caused by the irresponsibility of a driver who was going the wrong way. The void that these souls are going to leave on their loved ones is going to be huge. None of them deserved this.”
7News was unable to find a GoFundMe page for the young man who was killed.
The crash remains under criminal investigation. Investigators have not specified whether or not drugs or alcohol were a factor.
If you have any information on Simeon’s whereabouts prior to the crash, call FHP at 305-470-2500.
Copyright 2022 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.