SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE (CBS4) – The grieving sister of a student at Florida International University who was killed by a hit-and-run driver is appealing for the public’s help, saying it’s a “crime against humanity” that the driver never stopped.
“This was a beautiful life lost,” said Natasa Jaric, while fighting back tears. “There is no way back.”
Miami-Dade Police say her older sister, 43-year-old Melita Jaric, was struck by a vehicle around 4 p.m. on Friday as she was walking across SW 11 Street just west of LeJeune Road from her home to her car.
Police say the driver did not stop and continued westbound. They say there is no reliable description of the vehicle and they hope that some witnesses will come forward. The vehicle should have significant front-end damage, detectives believe.
It seems no one in the neighborhood saw the crash, but Jaric’s roommate heard it and rushed outside. Other neighbors also tried to help.
“I just wanted to do the best I could to help her,” said Erik Moreno, who spoke to a 911 dispatcher. “We flipped her over, opened her airway, I counted her breaths.”
Natasa Jaric spoke to CBS4’s Peter D’Oench in front of the home where her sister had lived and just yards away from where she lost her life.
Melita Jaric was rushed to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital where she had been on life support. But her sister Natasa said she succumbed to her severe injuries on Sunday. Her parents flew to Miami from Serbia to be at her side.
“My sister was brilliant. She was well educated. She loved all culture. She was like a butterfly. She was light on her toes,” said Natasa Jaric.
Her sister was a computer technology expert who was working on her Ph.D.
“It’s a crime not to stop,” said Jaric. “For someone doing that, it is not acceptable. It is a crime against humanity. I do not accept this.”
“What was the point of this?” she asked. “What was the point?”
“We need closure,” she said. “This was an innocent person. We need closure on this. For her to be laying in the street for 30 minutes and she didn’t get help. This guy left the scene. And she couldn’t breathe. There was irreversible brain damage to her. If someone had picked her up and helped, the damage would have been a lot less.”
One caller to 911 complained that it took a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue unit ten minutes to get to the scene after receiving a call.
Fire Rescue spokesman Arnold Piedrahita told CBS4 that the goal for response time was eight minutes and that is affected by factors that include traffic, time of day and weather.
Miami-Dade Police said there was no reason to believe that any delay was a factor in the death of Jaric.
Detective Roy Rutland said police were looking at surveillance tape from the area to determine if any was useful and also made a plea for people to come forward.
“We know small things can help,” he said. “Sometimes just one thing can help. We are concerned that someone may have seen something.”
“For the life of me, I can’t understand how you can hit someone and then leave them like an animal,” he said.
“We don’t want to be premature about this,” he said. “All the facts are not in. We know the sun was bright and that could have blinded the driver. We do not know all the factors.”
If you can help Miami-Dade Police with this case, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS (8477).