Reporting Peter D’Oench
NARANJA(CBS4) – In an instant, Donelle Griffin’s life changed forever when a car slammed into her, her son and her nephew.
The 42-year-old mother survived with a fractured right leg, ankle and pelvis. For the first time since the accident, Griffin has talked about her ordeal. In an exclusive interview with CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, she said her heart and soul are forever broken.
“He was the one I was supposed to look after and take to school every day and feed him every day and watch him grow up,” said Griffin. “The greater pain is mine, thinking everything is okay and waking up and seeing it’s not okay because my baby is not here. My baby was a good baby. He should not have died at all.”
Wheelchair bound with screws and staples in her legs after a two week hospital stay at Kendall Regional Medical Center, Griffin spoke with D’Oench on the porch outside her home just blocks away from the accident scene.
“Thank God for family,” she said. “If I didn’t have family, I don’t know where I’d be. Thank God for my family.”
As she spoke, she clung to a photograph of her 7-year-old son Ameer Blair. He was killed and her 8-year-old nephew Jaheim Haddo suffered a fractured left leg when they were crossing Southwest 268th Street at 135th Avenue on January 24th. Griffin said they had just left the Diaz Supermarket with groceries and were headed home when the accident occurred.
“I don’t know where that car came from,” said Griffin. “It happened in a second.”
Griffin and the children were not in a crosswalk. The driver, Dagoberto Trevino, stopped and waited for police to arrive. He was cited only for careless driving.
D’Oench spoke with Trevino at his home in Homestead on Tuesday. He said that the accident left him traumatized as well.
“I’m very sorry for what happened,” Trevino said. “But I can’t bring him back to life. I’ve got to live with it for the rest of my life. It’s going to haunt me. Even when I go to work, it’s not going to leave my head. It’s a thing I have to deal with for the rest of my life.”
“I didn’t see them at all,” Trevino said. “It was so dark down there. I had my high beams on and the next thing, you know, bad things happen.”
“I’ve heard that the family needed help with burial expenses for the child,” Trevino said. “I’m trying my best to raise some money for the child’s family.”
But the mother of Jaheim Haddo had questions about Trevino the night of the accident.
“You know what he was doing because he couldn’t have been looking,” said Tina Haddo. “That’s all I can say, he couldn’t have been looking. He must have been going more than 45 miles per hour. It’s a miracle that my son was not DOA.”
Griffin said of the driver, “He can walk around freely and smile, while I have to grieve every day.”
She also had a message for other mothers.
“Be careful,” she said. “Don’t just think about guns and knives that kill people. You can walk across the street and get killed. Be careful. Watch your babies.”
Griffin will need a lot of physical therapy and it will be sometime before she can walk again.
“And I will never be able to walk the same way,” she said.
Emotionally, she added, she may never recover.
Her spirits do rise from what is near the site of the crash; a small makeshift memorial that is filled with stuffed Teddy bears.
“We thank all the supporters for putting those bears there. We thank everyone for calling us, for all the support we had. We thank you,” said Griffin.
“We thank a gentleman who was on the scene who got my son out of the street and also directed traffic so another car would not come and hit him and hit my sister or my son,” said Haddo.
“I thank them from the bottom of my heart,” said Griffin. “Whatever heart I have left. I thank them.”
She said it is some comfort amid her loss.