MIAMI GARDENS (CBS4) – A Miami Gardens traffic homicide investigator immediately suspected the driver in a bus bench crash that killed one woman and left two others in critical condition was “on something,” police sources have told CBS4 News.
Police drew blood from 29-year-old Mark Derefaka on the scene of the crash at Northwest 199th Street and 2nd Avenue last Wednesday, because the investigator thought the driver “appeared impaired” after driving at what witnesses said was a high rate of speed into a crowd at the bus stop.
CBS4 News has also learned that Derefaka had no valid driver’s license.
No charges have been filed as yet.
“I’m flabbergasted,” said Tavish Olascoaga on Monday. His mother, Wendy Vasquez, was critically injured in the crash.
Olascoaga is particularly upset after a CBS4 investigation revealed Derefaka had been convicted of 10 felony offenses committed over a period of just two and a half years. Three of the felonies were violent crimes, in separate cases, including attempted murder with a firearm. He also had a felony drug conviction.
“It’s crazy that this type of person is still walking the streets,” Olascoaga said.
“We’re not going to leave no stone unturned” said Hettie Vereen on Monday.
Vereen’s mother, 83-year-old Mary Smith, was killed at the bus stop. She was on her way to Bible study.
‘It’s God’s will that my mother is gone, and it’s going to be God’s will that whoever needs to be punished will be punished,” Vereen said.
Miami Gardens Detective Carlton Coleman said investigators are moving very deliberately with the probe of the bus stop death and mayhem.
“My heart goes out to the families,” Coleman said. “We have to get all of the evidence. It’s a very sensitive case. We have to get all of the evidence and then submit it to the state attorney.”
Coleman said it could take several weeks for sophisticated blood test results to come back from the crime lab.
The department spokesperson also said detectives were waiting on the state attorney’s office to process a search warrant so they can examine the car that belonged to Derefaka’s girlfriend. An on-board computer, a type of “black box,” should have recorded data, including the speed the car was traveling in the moments before its airbags deployed.