SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE (CBSMiami) – The nephew and a companion of a popular flower vendor who was struck and killed by a car while sitting on a bus bench is demanding answers, hoping to find out how this accident happened.
Sixty-four-year-old Estanislada Carlota Pol, who was known affectionately as “the flower lady,” was struck and killed when the driver of a 2005 Dodge Neon lost control of his vehicle on Bird Road at SW 93rd Avenue.
The Neon crossed three lanes of eastbound traffic and hit Carlota Pol as she was sitting on a bus bench, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
“She was a wonderful lady,” said Luis Betancourt, the nephew of Carlota Pol. “She was an innocent person. She was sitting on the bus bench waiting to go home after a hard day’s work. She didn’t expect anything like that to happen. We’re all very sad.”
Betancourt spoke with CBS4’s Peter D’Oench as he came to the scene of the accident, which happened at 8:20 p.m. Thursday.
Betancourt looked down at the ground near the bus bench, pointing to the shreds of some of the flowers that his aunt had.
“She was such a good person,” said Betancourt. “She was generous and she was very nice. It’s so sad. This is shocking. I can’t believe it. Why did this happen? What really happened? Could more have been done, perhaps better lighting. She was just so kind. She didn’t deserve that.”
“Was there speeding? Was there another car? Could there have been some drag racing?” asked Betancourt.
FHP said drugs and alcohol were not factors. The Highway Patrol is looking into whether speeding was a factor. So far, no charges have been filed.
FHP identified the driver as 22-year-old Jose Mendoza. CBS4 went to his home and was told by one unidentified man leaving the home that Mendoza was “not there.” No one answered his knocks on the door.
At Carlota Pol’s apartment near Bird Road, CBS4 also spoke with Luis Garcia, who said he and Carlota Pol had been living together for the past five years. Garcia broke down as friends embraced him to show support.
As he fought back tears, he told CBS4 through a translator, “She was a good person. She was my girlfriend. She would send needy kids with cancer money. And she would sell her flowers. She was constantly helping everyone. She was a great person. I was distraught when I first found out what happened to her. I want to know how this happened.”
Carlota Pol’s friends also said they were upset.
“This is terrible, so tragic,” said Becky Gonzalez. “This is very hard to take.”
With tears in his eyes, Armando Gonzalez said, “She was such a good person. She was a hard working person who just wanted to sell her flowers.”
Along Bird Road, CBS4 found that several store owners and employes knew Carlota Pol. She often sold flowers outside the Presidente Supermarket and inside the Rio Cristal Restaurant.
“She’s been coming here as long as I can remember,” said Ely Acosta, whose father opened the Rio Cristal restaurant 38 years ago. “She was always standing outside selling her flowers to customers. She was always so talkative, happy and thoughtful.”
Acosta is survived by a son who lives in Venezuela and a daughter who lives in Broward County.
FHP spokesman Sgt. Tom Pikul told D’Oench that is was not known if investigators had found any useful surveillance tape from the crash scene.