HALLANDALE BEACH (CBSMiami) – Police are apologizing amid an investigation into a chase and wrong-way crash ended with four people dead and a traffic nightmare on I-95 early Wednesday in South Broward County.
The driver was previously identified by police as Paolo Lafrance before correctly identified as Willie Dumel, 25. Police determined Dumel was in possession Lafrance’s belongings.
“Mr. Dumel was carrying Mr Lefrance’s identification, so we want to make that correction to the media and apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused,” said Opa-locka Asst. City Manager David Chiverton.
Opa locka police say they figured out the suspect was actually Dumel after Lefrance showed up at the station upset about mix-up.
“He just wanted to come in and clear the air he didn’t want to be caught up in something of this caliber,” said Chiverton.
Police say Lefrance’s ID was stolen years ago, and that ID is the one Dumel had on him when he was arrested at the crash scene.
The crash happened around 1 a.m. on I-95 just south of Hallandale Beach Boulevard.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Opa-Locka Police attempted to pull over the driver of a Chevy Suburban at 143rd Street and 22nd Avenue when it sped off.
Opa-Locka Police pursued Dumel until he got onto I-95 at Ives Dairy Road, traveling northbound in the southbound lanes.
Opa-Locka assistant city manager David Chiverton said their officers broke off the pursuit on Ives Dairy Road.
The wrong-way Suburban then crashed into another SUV at Hallandale Beach Blvd., killing four people inside. Dumel was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood with two broken legs.
“On behalf of the city, our prayers go out to the family who are going to experience this terrible loss,” said Opa-Locka spokesman Chiverton.
Opa-locka Police officials told CBS4’s Natalia Zea that Dumel threw a gun out the window on I-95 before crashing into the SUV. It was recovered.
The impact was so severe the Suburban’s engine ended up here and the Suburban landed 40 yards away.
“In my nearly 25 years as a state trooper, this is perhaps the worst accident I have ever seen,” said trooper Joe Sanchez of the Florida Highway Patrol.
The accident and the subsequent investigation closed down all southbound I-95 lanes for eight hours including the morning rush hour. They were re-opened to traffic just before 9:30 a.m.
Just before 8 a.m., the Suburban was loaded onto a flatbed truck to be taken away.
Police were able to remove two of the bodies from the SUV before it was loaded onto a flatbed truck. The SUV was taken to the Medical Examiner’s Officer where the remaining bodies will be removed.
“There were four innocent people because of an accident like this who lose their lives,” Sanchez told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench.
“They could have been here on vacation, going somewhere, and now they have lost their lives.”
Sanchez said, “I can’t imagine why someone would drive the wrong way like this, not only endangering their lives by the lives of other people as well.”
Police have not released any details about the four people who were killed inside the Suburban and haven’t indicated why the chase started.
The Florida Highway Patrol said the four victims were from out of state and are not releasing their identities until next of kin has been notified.
Dumel is facing charges including four counts of vehicular homicide, eluding police, and driving with a suspended license.