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Ordinance To Install Barriers At Shopping Centers Approved By County Committee

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Family memeber show photos of Celeste Gaitan who was killed when an SUV smashed into her storefront. (Source: CBS4)

Family memeber show photos of Celeste Gaitan who was killed when an SUV smashed into her storefront. (Source: CBS4)

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MIAMI (CBS4) – In an effort to reduce injuries from wayward cars, Miami-Dade’s Infrastructure and Land Use Committee unanimously gave initial approval  Wednesday to an ordinance that would require barriers be placed in front of shopping mall thoroughfares.

The ordinance, backed by Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, was inspired by Miami-Dade resident Juan Carlos Albelo. Albelo’s  daughter Laymet and another woman,  Celeste Gaitan,  were killed at a shopping center on Bird Road in August  2011 when an out of control SUV struck them as they sat on a bench in front of a store.

Gaitan was 7 months pregnant at the time. Rescue efforts to save her unborn child were unsuccessful.

The shopping center at Southwest 40th Street and 134th Avenue did not have any barriers, known as anti-ram fixtures, between the parking lot and the storefronts.

Coincidentally on Wednesday, the same day the ordinance was preliminarily approved, an 82 year old woman was killed in Margate when her husband accidentally accelerated into a storefront.

“If approved, the ordinance would be enforced only for new shopping centers being built. However, I am interested in working with existing businesses who would like to take these extra precautions in keeping drivers and pedestrians safe in their shopping centers,” said Commissioner Diaz. “My sympathies remain with the Albelo and Gaitan families, as well as the family of the woman who died earlier today. These are tragedies that may be prevented with the barriers in place.”

The issue will be taken up by county commissioner at a later date yet to be decided.

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