SOUTHWEST RANCHES (CBSMiami) — Clutching candles and each other, Maritza Medina’s family, friends and neighbors held a vigil in her honor Thursday outside Southwest Ranches Town Hall.
Medina was killed last week when suspected murderer Antonio Feliu slammed into her car as he attempted to get away from police in a chase that ended at Griffin Road and U.S. 27.
“If you ever met my wife for 10 minutes, you knew her whole life,” husband Diego Medina said. “That’s the person she was. That’s a testament of why everybody is showing up. She was a very special person.”
Medina’s husband, Diego, said his wife wouldn’t have been at that intersection if not for the metal gates that restrict traffic from Pembroke Pines into Southwest Ranches.
“People on both sides, as everybody said, don’t want the gates,” Medina said. “How hard is it to remove a gate? We’re in the 21st century. It would take me 15 minutes if they let me.”
Dozens of people joined Medina at the Southwest Ranches Council meeting Thursday to demand something be done about the barriers.
They wore shirts that read “This could have been avoided”.
“I want to be like Ronald Reagan and say, ‘Mr Nelson, take this wall down. Take these gates down’,” neighbor Michael Hanley said.
“A man’s wife would be here today if those gates weren’t there,” Tom Gellhaus said.
But Southwest Ranches Mayor Jeff Nelson said the gates had nothing to do with Medina’s death.
“The person responsible for that accident, that piece of garbage that broadsided her at that red light, is the one responsible for this terrible, horrific tragedy,” Mayor Jeff Nelson told CBS 4’s Lauren Pastrana.
Some residents in Southwest Ranches said they like the gates because they keep traffic off the residential streets.
Mayor Nelson said there’s no plan to remove the gates anytime soon.
“Honestly, we’re focusing on our prayers and thoughts to the family and those are things that right now aren’t being contemplated. But tomorrow is another day,” Mayor Nelson said.
Some gate opponents think tomorrow might be too late.
“I don’t know the mayor. I don’t know his heart. I don’t know how he feels. He might not care,” Diego Medina said. “I don’t know if this is going to move him or not. Obviously, what’s here is pretty impressive to me.”