Hit-and-run hero receives call from widow
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) -- A Good Samaritan received a surprise phone call from a grateful widow while talking about his drive to stop the alleged culprit behind a fatal hit-and-run accident.
Jairo Fuentes tracked down the driver accused of killing the executive chef and never looking back. He was talking to just one station when the victim's widow called him to show her gratitude. "I just want to thank you for what you did. It was very important for me to know that somebody cared."
Fuentes said he only wishes that he could have done more. "I feel so sorry for you," he replied to the widow, "and I'm glad I could be of help. I just wish I could have prevented it."
Miami Beach Police credit Jairo Fuentes for leading them to the suspected hit-and-run driver who left the pedestrian dead in the street, early Monday morning. Fuentes said, "In the beginning I froze because I tried to stop and I looked and he fell to the floor and didn't react. He lifted his head for a second, and then I said, 'Wow, this is really bad.' And then I realized this person just kept going. So, I just sped up and caught up with her and started flashing my lights."
Karlie Tomica, 20, is accused of striking and killing Stefano Riccioletti, executive chef at Terrazza at Shore Club on South Beach, near the Shelborne Hotel, at about 6:30 a.m., at the intersection of 18th Street and Collins Avenue. She was later arrested. Her tearful mugshot looked nothing like the "party princess" she calls herself on Twitter.
After bonding out of jail Monday night, Tomica ran from waiting media cameras. But she cannot hide from the law, just as she couldn't hide from Fuentes. The Good Samaritan followed her in his car to her home while on the phone with 911 dispatchers.
Police have since released the 911 call between the Good Samaritan and a dispatcher:
Caller: "I'm actually following that car that just hit a man on Collins Avenue. As far as I know, this man, she must have killed him. You know?"
Dispatch: "Sir, what's the address?"
Caller: "The address? I'm actually following her right now. The address must have been on... let me see."
Dispatch: "Was this the hit and run on 18th and Collins that a car hit a person?"
Caller: "I'm following that lady right now."
Dispatch: "You're following the subject?"
Caller: "Yes, I'm following her now. Yes."
He said he even had a chance to pull up alongside her car and plead to her to stop, but she refused to even slow down. "I said, 'Listen, you have to stop. I called the police, they're going to be here in a second,' and she just kept going."
Fuentes stayed on the line with 911 after she finally stopped. He told the operator that it immediately appeared that she had been drinking.
Dispatch: "Where is the female? She's the driver, right?"
Caller: "She's the driver, and she just stepped out of the car."
Dispatch: "OK, where did she go?"
Caller: "She's outside the car. She's really drunk."
Police said had Fuentes not helped find her, it could have taken days for them to find the person responsible for killing Riccioletti, a husband and father of two, giving Riccioletti's widow something to hold on to. "I just wanted hear your voice and [say] thank you for what you did," she told the Good Samaritan. "It was beautiful. I just don't know how else to describe it, but it just means a lot to know that people still care."
Police said Tomica will face a minimum charge of leaving the scene of an accident involving a death. If she is found to have been drinking during the crash, her legal troubles could be worse. She has her first scheduled court hearing in February.
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