MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – An early morning accident along Collins Avenue in Miami Beach claimed the life of a 45-year old man.
Police spokesman Detective Juan Sanchez said around 1:30 a.m. the driver of a silver Mercedes SUV, 20-year-old Joao Paulo Escudero Mauro, was heading north on Collins at a high rate of speed when he suddenly swerved into the parking lane at 39th Street. According to Mauro’s arrest affidavit, he was doing more than 60 mph on a street where the posted limit is 30 mph.
“It did strike several parts of the curb before it jumped onto the sidewalk striking a pedestrian,” said Sanchez.
Forty five year old Russell Knudson, who said he just finished his shift at a nearby Carrabba’s Italian Grill, was loading his bike onto the back of a Toyota Camry when he was struck by the SUV.
Bruce Spizer said he was fast asleep in his room on the 10th floor of the Courtyard Miami Beach when he was awakened by a disturbing sound.
“I heard a horrific sound,” said Spizer, “And I thought to myself either I’m dreaming or that was one very serious automobile accident, a lot of sound of metal.”
After it struck Knudson, the SUV slammed into a light pole which toppled to the ground in front of a Toyota.
“It really sounded like metal on metal, I didn’t hear any breaks or anything,” said Spizer.
Neither the driver of the Toyota or the six people in the SUV was hurt.
A small bag of cocaine was found on the scene and Mauro’s arrest report said officers noted a “white powdery substance in his left nostril.” Mauro was given a breathalyzer test at the scene and then gave a urine sample at police headquarters. During questioning, Mauro said he had been drinking earlier in the evening. He also said he swerved to avoid hitting a vehicle which had stopped in front of him.
According to police, Mauro had on him a Brazilian state identification card which had an altered birth date which indicated that he was older than 21 years old.
Mauro has been charged with DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, possession of a driver’s license with an altered date of birth and possession of cocaine.
Police said Mauro is from a wealthy family in Brazil and would be considered a flight risk if released on bail. The Brazilian Consulate was notified of his arrest.