MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Emotions ran high at Sunset Senior High School in West Kendall Monday as students and faculty mourned the loss of two juniors who were killed in a multiple vehicle crash early Sunday morning. A third person, a Good Samaritan who stopped to help the two friends after they were involved in a car accident, was also killed.
“He was a hero,” said attorney Robert Pelier, who was the best friend of the Good Samaritan, 45-year-old Eduardo Hernandez. “He stopped rather than keeping on going to his home just a few blocks away and got out of his car and helped 2 girls who were not much older than his own daughters to see if they needed assistance. Now his family is distraught.”
Pelier told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “He’s always been a person for other people. The whole family has existed for other people. His wife Fatima is a teacher who won accolades as a teacher of the year.”
Hernandez, a father of 3 children, had worked for the City of Coral Gables since 1994. He was a maintenance collections supervisor in the parking department. His department is taking donations for his grieving widow and children on the 2nd floor of the police department.
“He loved everyone and had a great heart,” said Hernandez’s co-worker Jennifer Zuriarrain as she fought back tears. “He was a great family man. That was Eddie, always willing to help somebody. It’s a big loss to
everyone here. I am talking about the pain we have in our chest. He always made everyone feel happy.”
“It’s a big loss,” said another co-worker Lizbeth Rivera. “He was a great family man. We will miss him.”
The tragedy unfolded when Anapaula Saldana, 17, and Caroline Agreda, 17, collided with an SUV driven by 68-year-old Josefa Quinones at SW 157th Avenue and 56th Street at about 3:00 a.m. on Sunday.
Police said the girls got out of the car and were standing outside when Hernandez, a father of three, pulled up and tried to help them. Seconds later, all three were hit by another car.
Investigators said Christopher Masferrer, 30, was behind the wheel. We reached out to Masferrer at his home but we’re told by someone who answered the door “no comment.”
A check of records showed that Masferrer had a series of infractions between 2004 and 2007.
Records showed that he was cited in 2004 for no registration, driving un unsafe vehicle and following too close,. In 2005, he was cited for no proof of insurance. In 2006 he was cited for speeding and 2007 for failure to show due care.
CBS4 has learned Masferrer served in the U.S. Marines from 2008 to 2013. He was deployed during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2012.
At the school Monday, where students are taking the FCATs, grief counselors are on hand to help students cope with the loss of their fellow students.
“Today’s gonna be a really hard day,” said Caroline’s friend Elizabeth Cruz.
“It’s hard. I feel it right here, it’s like, knowing she’s not gonna walk in through that door,” said another classmate Kayla Lorenzo.
Friend Yorling Abdallah said she still hasn’t come to terms with the loss. “In my mind, she’s not dead, she went to a different school. I’d rather have that on my mind than the reality that she’s dead.”
At a vigil Sunday night, friends and family lit candles and cried together as they remembered the girls.
“I just lost my sister, I lost my sister,” cried Christian Saldana, Anapaula’s brother.
Christian Saldana, a freshman at Sunset High, was also in attendance at another candle-lighting ceremony Monday at McMillan Park.
“It’s been bad,” Saldana said. “This is the hardest thing I’ve been through in my life. But (my classmates) have really been helping me. I need to be strong for my mom and my grandma and my dad and especially for my sister.”
Many at Monday’s vigil wore white shirts while others brought candles and flowers.
“I came to pay my respects,” Julian Villegas told CBS4’s Lauren Pastrana.
Villegas didn’t know the victims, but he said he watched them die. He witnessed the crash.
“It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Villegas said.
Family members of Eduardo Hernandez describe him as a loving father and husband with a giving heart.
“Always willing to help anybody, “ said Robert Escobar, the cousin of Hernandez’s wife.
They said just last week, he helped a man who had crashed his car into a tree.
Hernandez, who recently ran in a “Mothers Against Drunk Driving” marathon, was on his way home Sunday with his father and 8-year-old son when he stopped to help the girls.
Saldana’s mom is devastated by the loss of her daughter. Just hours before the tragic crash, a picture was taken which shows Saldana trying on her prom dress.
“Ana was by far the most amazing person ever. Such a great spirit, always helping, always smiling,” said her girlfriend Sam Odio. “And Caroline was warm hearted, always wanted to be loved. I hope everyone learned a lesson, don’t drink and drive and if you see someone drunk, don’t let them drive.”
Masferrer and Josefa Quinones were both taken to Kendall Regional Medical Center.
Masferrer was treated and released. Quinones is in fair condition.
Investigators believe speed and alcohol may be a factor in the crash but toxicology results are pending.
No arrests have been made so far.