Family of police chase victim calling for change
SOUTHWEST RANCHES, Fla. (WSVN) -- Family members of a woman who was killed during a police chase are taking their voices to a Town Hall meeting, calling for gates posted at entrances through their community to be taken down.
Family and friends gathered outside Southwest Ranches Town Hall with candles and wore T-Shirts with Maritza Medina's picture on the front and on the back the gates they believe contributed to her death. "My wife would have never been there if those gates wouldn't have been there, its that simple," said Diego Medina.
"I know legally they can close them but like our talking point said, it isn't morally right," said a woman who wants the gates down.
Southwest Ranches put up three gates a year ago to prevent traffic from Pembroke Pines cutting though their community to reach Griffin Road. "The one fact is that my wife would have not been in that intersection if those gates weren't there," Diego Medina said.
Maritza Medina, Diego Medina's wife, was the innocent victim of a police chase, Sept. 18. She was ejected out of her vehicle and died at the scene when Antonio Feliu ran a red light and T-boned her sedan. Medina was on Griffin Road, crossing US 27.
The gates are being blamed by the Medina family for contributing to their loved ones death.
Southwest Ranches put up the gates on three residential streets forcing Pembroke Pines residents like Medina to use US 27 to get anywhere on Griffin Road.
Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank Ortis said the gates went up after a dispute between the two communities. "We certainly don't want them erected because of our residents who are forced now not to be able to go north and have to go all the way around," Ortis said.
To call for a change, Medina's family and friends gathered at Southwest Ranches' Town Hall for a candlelight vigil Thursday night. "The reason why we're getting involved is because we feel that this is something that could've been avoided," Juan Gallo, a pastor organizer said.
The mayor of Southwest Ranches said the blame on the gates is misguided. "Those gates had nothing to do with, unfortunately, the tragic death of Mrs. Medina," Jeff Nelson said. "It was that scumbag that ran that red light and blind-sided her."
Many people from Pembroke Pines and Southwest Ranches said the gates have cut down on traffic and made residential streets safer. "The gates should stay closed," Randall Summerlin said. "Safety. These are residential streets and people treat them as a main thoroughfare."
"I don't know the mayor. I don't know his heart. I don't know how he feels. He might not care, so I don't know. I don't know if this is going to move him or not," said Diego.
The Medina family said if they can't get Southwest Ranches to take down the gates, they will go to Tallahassee to speak with lawmakers.
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