Family, Friends Mourn After SUV Kills Store Owner, Another

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE (CBS4)- One day after a man in his seventies lost control of his SUV and slammed into a Southwest Miami Dade store front and killed two women, police still have not charged Pedro Ruiz.

Meanwhile, family and friends of the two women are mourning their loss. One of those women, Celeste Gaitan, was seven months pregnant. For her family, the loss is twice as painful.

“It’s one of those things that you see on the news that happens that you never think it’s going to happen to you,” said Joanna Gaitan, Celeste’s sister-in-law.  “It’s like a dream. It’s like a nightmare. We’re still waiting to wake up.”

Gaitain’s family was already starting to fly into town for her baby shower. She had already named the child Matthew.

Gaitan was taken to Kendall Regional Hospital in a desperate attempt to save her six-month-old unborn baby.  Sadly, the efforts to save the baby were unsuccessful, according to police.

“She has clothes that she bought. She bought a bunch of clothes for the baby,” said Joanna Gaitan. “They’re there hanging on her closet.

Gaitan was the owner of the Celeste & Co. Boutique at 13357 SW 42nd Street. She was sitting on a bench outside of the entrance with a female customer, 27-year-old Lamet Albelo, when the SUV smashed into the front.

On Wednesday, the Gaitan family wiped away tears as they flipped through family photo albums outside of Celeste’s home Wednesday. Many of them remembering the Celeste who they described as the life of the party, the person who was the glue that held their big family together.

They said she modeled as a young girl in Venezuela and came here to live her dream and open up a clothing boutique. The same shop that she was at when police said Ruiz killed her in a terrible accident that left her 10 year old son, Gowa, without a mother.

“He’s just asking for mom, mom, mom, mom, and it’s not easy you know,” said Emerson Gaitan, Celeste’s younger brother.

Meanwhile back at the boutique, friends and relatives of the two women who died there are writing messages of love and support on the boarding up windows. Below there are flowers and candles burning as many look and cry gazing at the growing memorial.

Mirel Seoane lit candles at the site in honor of her friend Albelo.

“I just think that probably God needed another angel,” said Seoane.  “I don’t know why because she didn’t have to die like that.”

The driver of the SUV was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. The driver’s wife, who was in the passenger seat, was not hurt.

The family of the driver released this statement late Tuesday:

Today is a very sad day for my entire family and for me. I feel an immense pain, both for the people who lost their lives and because members of my family are involved in this tragic accident.

I know this moment is so painful that words are not enough, but I want to express on behalf of my family, my parents, and myself, from the bottom of our hearts, our most sincere condolences to the families of the people who accidentally lost their lives


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