HIALEAH(CBS4) — A 23-year-old Hialeah man who survived a police-involved accident that took the life of his future fiancé and left the officer with serious injuries is speaking out for the first time; saying he believes the officer was speeding and he had stopped at a stop sign before the officer hit his vehicle.
“I remember getting gas, jumping in my car, putting on my seat belt and I remember stopping at the stop sign,” said Marco Barrios in an exclusive interview with CBS4’s Peter D’Oench.
Barrios told CBS4 that his 21-year-old girlfriend, Andrea Castillo, also put on her seat belt. He said they were on their way to the Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood to celebrate her birthday. She had just turned 21 the day before.
Barrios told D’Oench that he does not remember the collision itself. It happened on the night of October 19th at E 49th Street and 9th Court. Castillo was the daughter of new Miami-Dade School Board member Susie Castillo.
“I just remember waking up on the side of the road and looking at my car upside down and the next thing I know, I was in the hospital,” Barrios said.
Even though Barrios is distracted by his own injuries, he can’t stop thinking about Castillo, who he had known for more than three years and who he had been dating for two years. Castillo had just graduated from F.I.U. and planned to become a teacher.
“She was always trying to help people and be nice to somebody,” said Barrios. “She was like my life. She was everything to me. She was so young. She had so much to look forward to. She was going to become a teacher.”
Barrios is recovering with a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a fractured pelvis, head and internal injuries.
“I had bleeding in my lungs and damage to my vertebrae ” he said. “I’m trying to get better every day, but it’s just exhausting. It’s just a lot of pain and I am barely able to sleep. I take medication to relieve the pain. It will be three months before I can walk again. Doctors say the pain will stay with me for about a year.”
Barrios is convinced that Officer Raul Somarriba, who police say was on duty, was speeding. Barrios’ attorney John Leighton has said that based on skid marks and witness testimony, he believes the officer was driving at least 70 miles per hour in a 40 mile per hour zone.
“They said my car flipped,” said Barrios. “He’s an officer you know. He should by example I think.”
Records show the blood alcohol level of the officer was never tested. Police reports indicate tests were done of Barrios and Castillo because alcohol use was “suspected.”
“Why not test the cop?” asked Barrios. “Take my blood. It’s ok with me. Why not take his?”
The Barrios’ family attorney John Leighton said the results of those tests have not been released, but he told D’Oench, “They were not drinking.”
Leighton and Barrios called for an independent investigation by another agency such as Miami-Dade Police, which Hialeah Police have resisted.
“Why not?” asked Barrios. “If there’s nothing to hide, why not turn it over?”
“I want to know, what police plan on doing so this doesn’t happen again,” Barrios said. “I want some action, some corrective action. That was an innocent life that was taken.”
Hialeah fire rescue officials have said that officer Somarriba was taken by air rescue to Jackson Memorial Hospital because it appeared that he had the worst injuries.
But public documents indicated that there was room in the helicopter for Castillo to be taken by air rescue as well since there were two paramedics.
“From what I was told, she was unconscious the whole time so she should have been taken there first,” said Barrios.
Also on Monday, attorney Leighton filed a complaint in Miami-Dade Circuit Court for a “pure bill of discovery” in which he is asking a judge to release evidence to him in this case that he can review.
Leighton hopes to get an emergency hearing in this case as a result of this complaint. Leighton said he was concerned because Hialeah Police had refused to turn this case over to an independent agency.
“We’re going to court. We’re asking a judge to give us the right to have an inspection and to release an order allowing us to get evidence that we need to see for our case and to make sure that evidence is not tampered with,” said Leighton.
“We would like evidence that includes the vehicles and we want to look at black box data, which all these cars in the crash have. There is electronic data in cars that the city of Hialeah has refused us access to that we want to see. We also want to get the blood tests that were taken from the officer if there were any at Jackson Memorial Hospital,” said Leighton. “We want to preserve that.”
“We’re also asking the court to give us some orders to get surveillance video from other businesses around the crash site as well as allowing us to get video from TV stations that may have had raw video,” said Leighton.
Leighton says the story of Barrios’ recovery has been remarkable.
“He’s a young man who is not complaining. But he’s a man whose life has been turned upside down,” said Leighton. “One month ago his entire life was turned around and the person that he loved most, his girlfriend who was going to be his fiancée was taken away from him.”
“He’s dealing with that but what I see is the character of a young man who is not complaining,” said Leighton.
“He just wants justice done and his questions answered.”
Hialeah Police Detective Carl Zogby, the Executive Assistant to the Chief of Police, told D’Oench that police could not comment until the investigation is finished.
Several days after the crash, police held a news conference, saying they did not believe speed was a factor in this case and saying that Barrios violated the stop sign.