Reporting Peter D’Oench
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WEST KENDALL (CBSMiami) – The father of a 27-year-old woman who was killed when she was struck by an SUV outside a West Kendall school wants answers about the accident that claimed his daughter’s life.
“The most important thing is to know what happened,” said Angel de Jesus Gomez, the father of Catalina Gomez Pelaez.
Gomez Pelaez was walking across the parking lot of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish School, at 14000SW 112th Street, late Tuesday afternoon when the accident happened. She was there to pick up a relative’s children from an aftercare program when, according to police, 73-year old Noris Better lost control of her vehicle and struck her.
“We’ve only known about this through a third party,” said a grieving de Jesus Gomez outside the family home. He told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “We don’t really know what happened. Can you imagine hearing about this? But we suppose it is destiny.”
“It’s a loss for all of us, but we have to understand that God leant her to us and now he’s taking her back,” he added.
“My daughter got here from Colombia six months ago. She studied political science. She worked through the United Nations in Colombia,” said De Jesus Gomez who added that Catalina’s mother lives in Colombia but is now here in South Florida.
He said his daughter helped out in the family’s tire business.
“She did a lot of work with accessories.”
Counselors were on hand Wednesday morning to talk with students at the elementary school.
Employees at the school told D’Oench that Better has a grandchild in the aftercare program and was there to pick the child up.
“I couldn’t sleep all night long,” said parent Angelica Sganga. “I’m shaking about it because it’s just, it was too close. It was right next to the door of the entrance of where we get the kids in and out after school care and just to see the car right there; you know, the kids could have been there.”
Mary Ross Agosta, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Miami, said the children who Gomez Pelaez normally picked up were not with her at the time of the crash.
“The children were in a building close by. At no time were they in any danger,” said Agosta.
Sganga and her six-year-old daughter witnessed the scene Tuesday afternoon. They watched as police investigated and a family broke down in tears after the woman was killed.
“She (her daughter) wanted to get close to the car to see what happened,” Sganga said. “I said, ‘No, let’s go home. Let’s just pray for the people that got in the accident and let’s just pray that they’re fine’.”
Investigators surrounded the scene for hours as family members gathered to grieve.
“Before the medical examiner removed the body Monsignor Schwanger did say a prayer over the victim’s body and many of the police officers joined in on the prayer and the blessing,” said Agosta.
“It’s just very sad and tragic,” said parent Irene Coronado.
Coronado said parents are doing their best to explain the deadly accident to their children and help them move forward.
Members of Gomez Pelaez’s family gathered Wednesday afternoon at a family home in West Kendall.
One of her cousins told D’Oench that she did not want to be identified but said, “My cousin was a good person. She was a very good person. The family is very sad.”
On Wednesday morning at the church connected to the school, there was a mass and there were prayers for the Gomez Pelaez and her family.
Police have not filed any charges in the case thus far.