Exclusive: No Charges Filed In Crash That Killed Miami Firefighter
HOLLYWOOD (CBS4) – The widow of a City of Miami firefighter killed in a car crash in April 2010 is angry that no charges will be filed against the driver accused of killing him.
The Broward State Attorney’s Office announced Thursday that the case against Sherry Marks, the driver who hit and killed Leslie Luma, was “circumstantial as to any theory of impairment.”
Tonika Luma called the decision unacceptable.
“That’s like a slap in the face to me, to him, to his memory,” Luma told CBS 4’s Carey Codd. “No nothing. No charges. No nothing. No. I can’t accept that.”
After the crash, investigative documents revealed that Marks, 21, admitted she “ingested two or three (nitrous oxide) cylinders approximately twenty minutes before getting into her vehicle.” Reports indicate that a total of 17 used nitrous oxide cartridges and 5 unused cartridges were found in her car. Hollywood police officers wrote in the report that the cartridges are used to make “whippets”, which produce a quick high when ingested.
Marks also told investigators she was taking Xanax, which was prescribed, and she “may have blacked out prior to the impact” with Luma.
Investigators took Marks’ blood and, according to a prosecutor’s memo, “the toxicology results confirm that there were no substances in Ms. Marks’ blood that would result in her being impaired.”
Marks’ father, Rick, said the decision is vindication for his daughter.
“It was an accident plain and simple,” Marks said. “It’s just a shame. It really is a shame. Accidents happen every day.”
The decision only brings more questions for Tonika Luma.
“How do you blank out?,” she asked. “You admit to taking something, you admit to getting behind the wheel of the car, knowingly that you took something, knowing that whatever medication you took can make you blank out and still you don’t get punished?”
Leslie Luma was a devoted husband father of four and a firefighter who saved lives. His rescue efforts in Haiti following the earthquake were lauded in a letter from President Barack Obama.
Tonika Luma says her family suffers every day.
“My family’s being punished every day missing their son, their dad, their brother,” she said. “Everyday we’re going thru it on a daily basis. Something happens and we miss him.”
Rick Marks’ said his daughter suffers too.
“At first she quit school,” he said. “She was devastated. She still has anxiety attacks and stuff like that.”
Marks said his daughter is back in college and plans to pursue a career as a pharmacist.
Tonika Luma, meanwhile, believes prosecutors shortchanged her husband out of the justice he deserved by not filing charges.
“That’s like a slap in the face to me, to him, to his memory,” she said. “No nothing. No charges. No nothing. No. I can’t accept that.”