CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – A driver of a car heading against the flow of traffic while fleeing a police car pursuing him for alleged illegal lane violation that resulted in the death of four Filipinos last April 3 at the Miami-Dade side of the county boundary line in Florida has been charged with fleeing and eluding a law enforcement officer, criminal use of personal identification and driving with expired license.
Heather Sherman of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office said Willie Dumel, 25, a laborer and Miami native, of 15000 Block Northeast 14th Avenue, Miami, Florida, was pursued by suburban Opa-Locka Police Cpl. Sergio Perez in the early hours of April 3, 2013 when Dumel made “an improper right turn from the center lane.”
Corporal Perez, who was at the time driving a marked police vehicle, activated his emergency lights and sirens in order to conduct a traffic stop.
“The defendant refused to stop and began fleeing east bound on SR (State Route) 9, approaching Golden Glades interchange,” according to a complaint/arrest affidavit provided this reporter by Attorney Sherman.
Dumel entered I(Interstate)-95 north and drove north bound. He exited I-95 at Ives Dairy road. He then drove west bound on Ives Dairy road before he entered I-95 south bound, driving north bound on the exit ramp. At this point, he collided head on with a vehicle that was traveling south bound on the exit ramp of I-95 south, carrying four Filipinos, who all died on the scene.
Those who died were Dennis Ryan Rinon Ortiz, 33, international sales director of Alveo Land, of Philippine-based Ayala Land Company; Ortiz’s Alveo subordinate associate, Marie Azarcon (Tuason), 26, both of the Philippines, a single mother of an eight-year old child; Azarcon (Tuason)’s friend, Albertson Anthony Almase, 31, a Petty Officer 2nd Class of the U.S. Navy, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Almase’s little sister, Kristina Almase, 26, a former resident of Cebu in the Philippines, who just relocated to Fort Lauderdale.
FLORIDA HIGHWAY PATROL STILL INVESTIGATING
The victims were on board a 2013 Kia Sorento minivan while Dumel was driving a much bigger 2013 Chevy Suburban sports utility vehicle.
The Florida Highway Patrol investigating the multiple fatal crash has yet to come up with the results of the autopsy of the fatalities and if alcohol and other factors played a role in the fatal crash.
Dumel, who suffered two broken ankles during the collision, was placed under arrest. Shortly after he was taken into custody, Dumel identified himself as Paolo Lafrance.
Subsequent check on his records revealed that his name is Willie Dumel, who has an open warrant for his arrest for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated stalking, improper exhibition of a firearm and violation of probation.
Further check of his records showed that Dumel’s driver’s license was suspended on March 3, 2007 and on June 4, 2007 and his ID expired on Aug. 6, 2010.
Investigation is also continuing whether Cpl. Perez followed protocol or standard operating procedure of the Opa-Locka Police in giving chase to Dumel when Dumel committed lane-change violation.
It was reported that a transcript of police radio recorded Perez as saying, “This guy (Dumel) is all over the road. Now he’s going against traffic on I-95. We’re going northbound in the southbound lanes.”
Although an Opa-Locka spokesman later said, “[Perez] cut off the pursuit and did not follow [Dumel] northbound the wrong way,” Perez has since been placed on administrative leave while the investigation is going on.
In some states, like Illinois, if a motorist commits misdemeanor on the road, the Chicago Police do not chase the motorist. The Chicago Police only pursue the motorist when the motorist has committed felony.
Ed Griffith, spokesperson of Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, referred this reporter to the City Attorney of Opa-Locka to request for a copy of the SOP that tells how an Opa-Locka Police will act in a situation when a motorist takes an “improper right turn from the center lane.” Mr. Griffith said only the City Attorney of Opa-Locka can force the Opa-Locka “to do anything.”
Meanwhile, Dumel is facing charges of one count of fleeing and eluding a law enforcement officer; one count of criminal use of personal identification; one count of D.W.L.S. (Driving While License Suspended) 3rd sequential offense; and one count of driving with expired license for more than four months. They are all violations of Florida statutes.
Photo of Willie Dumel. (Courtesy of Janelle Hall, Manager, Community Affairs Office of Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation)
TWO OF THEM FIT IN THE MINIVAN: Dennis Ryan Rinon Ortiz (second from left), 33, a U.S. citizen and International Sales Director for Ayala’s Alveo Land, and Lily Marie Azarcon (Tuason) (to Ortiz’s left), 26, both of the Philippines, are all smiles in this photo taken in the office of Philippines Today in San Bruno, California a week before they died. They died last April 3 morning in a fiery car crash in Miami-Dade County in Florida after attending a basketball game. Their three companions in the photo to the left of Azarcon (Tuason), Nikki Vargas, Josh Alfafara and Norman Henson, wanted to squeeze in the 2013 Kia Sorento minivan but they could not fit and missed the fatal trip. Extreme left is their host, Mr. Pep Vasquez, columnist of Philippines Today. (FAXX/jGLi Photo by Kiana Cruz, daughter of Thelma Cruz, Philippines Today’s Vice President for Promotions and Operations)